I am for beautiful images, thoughtful words, silver days and the wonderful metaphors to be found in tiny gardens, but …
I struggle to find a good thing to say about grasshoppers!
Warning! Violence and disturbing word imagery.
Recently my tiny garden has been overrun by grass hoppers. Brown ones, striped ones, green ones, big and small. Now I’m normally a little squeamish when it comes to the needless taking of life but in this instance the killing wasn’t needless and the life in the balance is my treasured dwarf lemon tree.
I recall my usually mild-mannered mother taking to garden pests with her secateurs, chopping them mercilessly. It was my first lesson in the diverse colours of blood according to which species was being rendered in two. Caterpillars oozed green for example, a rather cool fact for a curious six year old. It led to all kinds of speculation. I wanted to be a princess if only for the fact that being royal would come with ‘blue blood’. But I digress …
I always thought I aspired to a ‘live and let live’ philosophy. In the spirit of abundance theory there is always plenty to go around. Imagine my surprise when confronted with the impending annihilation of my treasured lemon, my alter ego took an alternative path – one of murderous revenge. The fine white dust you see on the leaves and fruit is sifted flour recommended as a natural remedy because it interrupts the insects’ ability to chew the leaves. It was unsuccessful. I have a new respect for these persistent little critters. I hesitate to detail other more bloodthirsty means employed. Suffice to say I am my mother’s daughter.
This particular tree is like a recalcitrant child. Despite my having lavished care and attention on it, moving it to more suitable conditions, feeding it with special purpose fertilisers, seeing to correct drainage, aspect and so on … the tree remains uncooperative and demanding, and yes, to be honest, downright ungrateful. You will see on closer inspection of the photo, it still suffers from magnesium deficiency (yellowing of the leaves) despite repeated attempts to address the situation. And now to add further insult, it has declared open house to grasshoppers!
As I reflect on my reaction to all this, I struggle to find something useful to say. Why am I so angry about a perfectly natural occurrence? Pests (of all species) come and go. Conditions encourage and allow – or they don’t.
These are the rhythms of nature and of life. When I stand back and observe my reaction in a dispassionate way, I decide it is this – my very reaction, not the pest – that is causing the storm within.
The lemon tree may survive the latest attack or it may not. I’ve done my best for it. If it dies, it is not in vain. The lesson it proffered me has been understood.
As my nanna used to say: “These things are sent to try us.”