Tuesday, February 7, 2012

I'll Take Some Salt and Pepper on That

Sometimes, when anxiety and insecurities tear through my soul, I stop everything to step outside and breath deeply.

 If it's daytime I tilt my head toward the sun and enjoy the potporri of southern California smells: jasmine, orange blossom, and eucalyptus.

 If it's evening, I watch the moon rise over the grassy knoll just beyond my patio. My body relaxes as its silvery fingers reach out and brush the nightscape with pale light. And then I wait for it. For that faint chorus of crickets, growing louder as the moon shines brighter.

I love those cricket symphonies. They remind me that the world is full of magic. For the moon's light is so enchanting that the insects cannot keep quiet under it. And so they rub their wings and legs together and, of all things, music escapes from their spiny bodies; poignant and melodic. Magical.

Some nights, long after the crickets have finished their moonlight serenades, a lone voice quivers. It is unfortunately close to the door of my studio. So close, I occasionally think it has gotten into my house and is singing its sweet, loud song on my pillow. Next to my head. Where I'm trying to sleep.

I try to ignore it, and when that doesn't work (because it never works) I try to focus on the song's beauty. But that only works for about 7.6 seconds, and then I remember that I really, really want to sleep. So I turn on the lights and check every surface and open every cupboard looking for that.darn.cricket. with no luck.

In general, my sentiments toward that cricket have been...negative. Until one day four months ago when I discovered him chilling in the geraniums outside my door. And would you believe it, he's not a cricket after all: he's a three-legged grasshopper, with only one large back leg. How he sings so loudly is beyond me, but props to him for making such a noise with limited assets.

Over the months I've grown fond of my three-legged soloist. He and I are the same, really, singing our way through life a little off balance, a little handicapped—not what we were supposed to be when God first created, back before sin and sadness came on the scene. He's become my mascot, and so that's what I've named him. Mascot. Everyone needs a three-legged Mascot.

I love seeing Mascot enjoying the lush shade of my geraniums each day, and I take extra care not to disturb him when I garden. He is my musical companion. I count on walking out my door and seeing his beady eyes peering up at me.

But one day last week he disappeared, and this place erupted in drama.

First, I found a FOUR-legged grasshopper in Mascot's place. For a split second I was overcome by a surge of joy: Mascot had been HEALED! And then my boring, imagination-less adult common sense kicked in and convinced me that Mascot had not been healed; he'd gotten the boot by an entitled alpha grasshopper.

And then I got mad.

And sad. But I swallowed hard, gathered my wits, and willed away the ache in my stomach before going about my morning.

The next morning I rolled out of bed, walked outside, checked for Mascot, glared at the four-legged creature that was still in his place. and spun around to go inside.

That's when I saw Mascot clinging bravely to my door.

Relieved and delighted, I devised a cunning and daring plan to give Mascot back his home: I moved the four-legged intruder to the bark mulch next to my holly bush.

I almost passed out from the wild excitement of it all.

In the middle of the relocation it occurred to me that Mascot could have found a wife, and was enduring a marital dispute in which he had been banished to the "couch" for the night.

But my gut told me something far more sinister was going on. It also told me the four-legged hopper was a male. So that ruled out the whole marital dispute option.

My gut was right. Three days have passed since the dramatic affair and Alpha Hopper is nowhere to be found. Things have returned to normalcy, and Mascot rests comfortably in his geranium home. Although, many of the geraniums have been recently devoured by a vicious fungus, so there could be more relocation drama next week. I'll keep you updated. Never a dull day here on the compound.

In the meantime, I've been trying to figure out the moral of this whole story. There is always a moral to a story in which the main characters are insects.

It could be that it's unwise to become too attached to a grasshopper, especially of the three-legged variety. But I don't think so.

Life is too short not to delight in its magic, even if the magic only lasts for a moment. And so I think the moral of the story is to keep noticing things. Small things. Easily missed things. Because small things are the salt and pepper that season bland days. So I'll continue to let Mascot teach me to savor my days. I'll smile when I find him hiding in my flowers. I'll listen close when I hear his quivering voice. And I'll feel loss when I find my friend is gone. Because a string of seasoned days makes a feast for a hungry soul that's growing.

© by scj


  1. Rejoice in the little things. They're so much bigger in reality. Thank you for perspective!

  2. Ahh, the perfect word: rejoice! The little things grow bigger with our rejoicing. Love it.