Since It’s Still Summer: Fascinating Facts About Locusts

So, thank God it is still summer. Yes, son has returned to San Luis Obispo, but there are still tons and tons of things that self can find to occupy her time, in the remaining weeks!

For instance, in the summer self’s reading takes on a new intensity and focus. It took her almost a month to get through a biography of Florence Nightingale (Gillian Gill’s Nightingales:  The Extraordinary Upbringing and Curious Life of Miss Florence Nightingale), because she could never read more than a page before acquiring a new thought.

A few days ago, she finished the Nightingale biography and began reading Wilfred Thesiger’s Arabian Sands. Thesiger is a wild man: he hates civilization. He wants to go where no man has gone before: the endless, trackless wastes of desert Arabia. Of course, it helps that he began his odyssey before the Second World War, when eccentric Britishers were still able to go about without interference from government authorities.

Thesiger is a very evocative writer. He can even make facts about locusts interesting, as witness the following passage:

In Saudi Arabia . . . I saw densely packed bands of hoppers extending over a front of several miles and with a depth of a hundred yards or more, and yet he told me that these were only small bands. I knew that with favourable wind locusts can cover enormous distances, but I was amazed when he told me that swarms can breed in India during the monsoon, move in the autumn to southern Persia or Arabia, breed there again, and then pass on to the Sudan or East Africa. Some of these swarms cover two hundred square miles or more. Eventually disease attacks them and they vanish as quickly as they had appeared. Then for a time there are no more desert locusts in the world, only solitary grasshoppers.

Big Questions of the Day

Why did a whole pod of birds drop their doo-doo on hubby’s car? Doo-doo in all colors of the rainbow: blue, green, brown, yellow, you name it —  it looked like there was a whole avian tribe that evacuated under the same tree, unfortunately the tree that hubby decided to park his car beneath, last night.

Today, after son left to return to San Luis Obispo, we decided to head over to Century 20 for the first screening of “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.” Even at that time of the morning, the theater was nearly full. There were parents armed with coffee, and children of all ages.

Self, succumbing to the novelty of the situation, went for the hot, buttered popcorn — at 9:30 a.m. !!!

And among her thoughts while watching the movie were these:

  1. Why was that man sitting next to us in the movie theatre cackling and cackling at all the romantic derring-do of the three pals? A grown man, apparently in his 40s?
  2. Why did Stephanie Zacharek of Salon.com Read the rest of this entry »

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