Dick Hunt's Blog

July 22, 2012

Dragonflies and Grasshoppers.

Dragonflies and Grasshoppers.
by Dick Hunt, July 17th, 2012.

As I was sitting with Ruth in the lounge at Holyrood this afternoon, my eyes fastened on a large model of a Dragonfly outside the lounge in the corridor. I was immediately reminded of an occasion when I was sitting with my family on the back porch of our home on the Ranch on a summer evening. I would have been around seven years of age at the time. We became aware of an approaching buzzing sound and then there appeared a cloud of large dragonflies, in migration, so thick that they blotted out the evening sun and darkened the sky. They moved steadily along, about twenty feet above the ground for several minutes while we sat transfixed with the numbers and the strong buzzing of their wings. Like the Spirit of God, we knew not from whence they came or where they went. We were aware that they were in search of their favourite food which we believed included mosquitoes and that they were ‘friendlies’.

On another evening, in our same evening spot, we were ‘treated’ to a migration of Grasshoppers, moving in the same direction, north to south, with more of a clacking sound than buzzing, and we knew that they were not friendlies. We had heard before of a plague of grasshoppers, which could devour whole crops of grain, thousands of acres in a few short days. We also knew that they would come to earth soon and lay their eggs to hatch the next spring at crop planting time. We only learned months later by bitter experience, what that would entail for us in trying to save the tender new shoots of wheat, oats and barley as they appeared from the great black soil of the springtime.

We did our homework and research through the Department of Agriculture and learned that the only known way to cope with hoards of the hatching and voracious insects was to poison them. That entailed bringing in immense quantities of sawdust from sawmills. We mixed the molasses with arsenic and the sawdust carefully to avoid becoming poisoned ourselves, filling barrels placed in wagons, pulled by horses, to spread the poison by hand. We wore long strong rubber gloves, and with a sweeping motion two of us spread the bait as well as could to cover the ground. We could see the tiny hatchlings moving like a mist over the ground among the tiny green shoots of grain. Due to the sweetness of the molasses, the insects devoured the poison and much of the crops were saved.

Another enemy which plagues people of the land is of course, drought, when the land dries to powder and no crops can be harvested. Large area of the United States are presently producing no crops because of lack of rain as are many of the countries in Africa. I have lived through the depression years on the Prairies when we had no crops for lack of rain.

Then we had years on the Prairies when we had huge crops and then saw them driven into the ground in minutes with huge hail stones, too large to fit into a coffee mug. Small animals and birds were pounded to death and even people who were caught without shelter in the fields were sometimes battered and occasionally died. “Nature red in tooth and claw”, hailstones and drought, blizzards and floods…there is so much to learn. And for many of the worlds’ people, in so many areas, violence & terrorism. We have so much for which to be grateful here in this Beautiful land of Canada.

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