I looked into my wing mirror today as we were driving through the Inner Circle of Regent’s Park and came face to face with another unexpected creature – a young grasshopper. I don’t recall seeing another in England although the sound of Provence is book marked by the nocturnal dissonance of the cicadas. Like the toad and the grasshopper I feel we may be spiralling out of our human habit into something alien and unforgiving.
The poet John Keats felt differently in 1816 when grasshoppers were two a penny.
On the Grasshopper and Cricket
The poetry of earth is never dead:
When all the birds are faint with the hot sun,
And hide in cooling trees, a voice will run
From hedge to hedge about the new-mown mead:
That is the Grasshopper’s—he takes the lead
In summer luxury,—he has never done
With his delights, for when tired out with fun,
He rests at ease beneath some pleasant weed.
The poetry of earth is ceasing never:
On a lone winter evening, when the frost
Has wrought a silence, from the stove there shrills
The Cricket’s song, in warmth increasing ever,
And seems to one in drowsiness half-lost,
The Grasshopper’s among the grassy hills.
The main difference between a grasshopper and a cricket is that crickets tend to have long antennae, grasshoppers have short antennae. Crickets stridulate (“sing”) by rubbing their wings together, while grasshoppers stridulate by rubbing their long hind legs against their wings.