Saturday, October 18, 2003

Rick and I further enjoyed the nice weather by taking a bug walk together this afternoon, and we happened to be in the right place at the right time to encounter The Grasshopper From Hannibal Lecter's Back Yard. It was an unassuming little green and black grasshopper; I was trying to hassle it mildly as it sat on a goldenrod stalk. It hopped onto my hand -- poink! -- as grasshoppers sometimes do. It then started to chew on my finger, something that grasshoppers normally don't do unless you're restraining them and they've already exhausted their spit supply.

This little bugger -- not even an inch long -- actually nibbled some of my outer skin layer loose, and then hopped obediently onto Rick's hand and did the same to him. When we'd had enough and wanted to get rid of it, we prodded it to encourage it to leave. It jumped onto the front of my sweatshirt and started to bite the cloth. That was enough; I plucked it off my shirt and put it back on the goldenrod. I hadn't been so thoroughly bitten by a harmless herbivore since getting nipped by five fuzzy little white arctiid caterpillars that we found in our clover patch back around '93. (Rick had put them in my hand, they crawled up my arm biting every inch of the way, and when I phoned an arctiid expert in Florida to chat about it, all he said was, "Wow, a new host!") In the case of the grasshopper (as with the caterpillars), I'm not sure whether this bug was exploiting a new host or simply practicing a stroke that probably won't keep it from sinking to the bottom of the gene pool. Oh, and only when I pulled it off my sweatshirt did it decide to finally spit on me.

After marveling over the grasshopper attack, we made our annual pilgrimage to WMU's Africa Nite, a celebration that our African Students Association has been putting on for forty years. Ate way too much food (cooked by the ASA members), and enjoyed every bit, especially the Senegalese chicken yassa with caakiri for dessert. Yassa is chicken stewed with onions and green olives; caakiri is a yogurt-and-semolina pudding with raisins and coconut. Oh, and someone else brought a ginger punch (sort of like ginger beer, but not carbonated) that I want more of right now. It was almost as interesting as the sweet-and-salty ginger drink that a South Asian (Bangladeshi, I think) acquaintance recently served to me; that one had limeade, cane juice, ginger, salt, coriander, and cumin in it. Come to think of it, I want more of that right now too.


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