Sunday, May 23, 2010
Friday, May 21, 2010
I couldn't resist. I looked over at the berry bramble while harvesting veggies, and I heard the siren shout of ripe dewberries. Usually Art brings them to me to savor, so I avoid the thorns, weeds, and other hazards. Not today; I was out early, and my usual impatient self decided to get them on my own. On crutches.
Carrying a plastic shopping bag, I picked my way through the obstacles mentioned above. The bag tore, but I stubbornly knotted it instead of going back to the house for a berry bucket or an obliging husband.
Collecting berries in bag (and belly), I discovered a few just past the glossy prime of fully ripe. A shame to waste them, yes? Distracted by a batch of berries just out of reach I popped an overripe one into my mouth as I stretched to pick the last few ready-ripe berries.
A heavenly burst of musky sweet flavor flooded across my tongue and...YOW! PAIN! FIRE!
If you're a Texan, you've already figured out what I did. I didn't look before I reached for -- or ate-- the berry with a fire ant garnish.
It had me by a single taste bud and wasn't letting go! I scraped my garden grimed T-shirt hem down my tongue. ARGHHH! It held on tightly!
No other options available, fire ant stinging viciously, I clawed my tongue with dirt encrusted fingernails. The ant came away in my fingertips, clacking its mandibles at me as I peered at it. It rared up, ready to latch onto my finger to punish me further.
It didn't stand a chance; I wiped the fire ant remains off my fingers onto my jeans. Standing in the bramble, I selected one perfect berry from my bag, scrutinised it closely, and placed it on my poor, injured tongue. Ahhhhh! Heavenly!
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Busy mandibles, armored, less than a half inch long, it was perched on a leaf. They'd be coming along bigger soon, nearly two inches long by the end of summer, but this one was the first grasshopper of the year.
No songs of rejoicing, no roll of drums for this harbinger of the plague to come. Now until November they'll be eating their way through my garden. It's the Burnetts vs. the hoppers.
Three life processes take up a hoppers life:
Everything green and tender is hopper fodder. Beans, lettuce, small seedlings, tops on their menu, are crunched, chomped, and chewed to rags. Tiny baby squash are gnawed if hopper mandibles get a hold on the tender skins.
What goes in, must come out. By the end of May everything will be peppered with grasshopper poo: rabbit cage tops, feed bins, vehicles, the ground itself. Don't hang the sheets out for that wonderful clean smell; I swear the hoppers balance on the clothesline just to besmirch the bed linens. The evil deed accomplished, they fling themselves away, laughing the mechanical gnashing that is grasshopper laughter.
The dog eats them, the chickens eat them, the cats pounce upon them and eventually dispatch them. We pick them off the plants, and take them to the chickens ourselves. No effect is apparent on the burgeoning hopper population.
Why? They breed. Prolifically. Hoppers must be the best creatures in the world at replacing themselves.
I'm desperate. I'm thinking of poisoning the rapacious devils, if I could find one that worked. I don't want to kill ourselves or any animals in the process, though. What to do??? Got any ideas?