The Day the Grasshopper Crossed the Road

One day, the grasshopper realised that every blade of grass, every leaf, every green thing in the field where he was had been eaten. He called his companions together.

“We have ruined this field” he said “Look about you and see. By our need for sustenance and life, we have cleared the very place we live in of every morsel of food and so we have to decide now what to do, so that we can live”

There were assents and grumbles from the crowd of grasshoppers that had assembled and a great deal of shuffling of feet on the bare earth. but nobody could suggest anything.

“I believe that it is time we crossed the road” said the grasshopper.

This was greeted with stunned silence.

Someone from the back cried out “Oh, no!”

Another exclaimed “We’ll all be killed”

Some other hopper collapsed with alarm and there was a time of scuffling while his friends tried to revive him.

“We have done this to ourselves,” shouted the first grasshopper ” by our own greed. We never controlled our appetites nor thought of the future.”

“True. True.” nodded some of the wiser hoppers.

“So we need to have the courage to save ourselves” added. the first grasshopper.

“Yes, true” someone called out.

“Then I propose we cross the road. For on the other side there is green grass and trees and acres of space for all of us. It will be a new life!”

The grumbling of the crowd increased. “We aren’t crossing the road, oh, no!” they cried.

“You do it! If you think you can!” they challenged him.

“We’ve seen too many of us squashed to death on the tar and squished to death on the windscreens of the passing cars. Just look at the traffic! How do you think you’ll ever get across?”

“Well, I have a plan” cried the first grasshopper.

“And what is that?” the crowd sneered.

“We can fly!”

“Oh, rubbish! In your dreams, mate.” snorted the assembled hoppers.

“Show us your wings” they challenged.

The first grasshopper turned around. Below his thorax were tiny green buds, little stumps, simply small buttons, not yet quite distinct.

“These are my wings” he announced.

The other hoppers fell about laughing. They rolled on the ground with mirth. They grasped their abdomens with the pain of their derision.

“Oh, Hah, hah, hah” they shrieked. “Do you think you are going to fly with those?”

The first grasshopper looked at them gravely. “Yes, I do. That is what they are. These are my new wings growing”

It took quite a while before his words could even be heard amongst the guffawing of the crowd. But gradually and slowly, his words sunk in to the assembled hoppers.

“Oh, look! I’ve got those too1” shouted a hopper in the middle craning around to see his own back. “Yes, so you have” affirmed his wife.

Look, here are mine” cried another

“I can feel something too” showed another.

“You say these are our wing?” they asked the grasshopper.

” I KNOW they are.” he assured them.

“What are they for?” the hoppers asked.

“Well, they are so that we can fly. If we can fly, we do not have to stay in the same place for ever, and when we have taken all the nourishment from one place, we will be able to move on to the next. They are for our survival.” he explained.

“Why don’t we just stay here?’

“Well, we have stayed here too long anyway – look what we have done to our field. But even though others tried to get to the other side of the road, you have never wanted to, so you simply stayed.”

“Well, we are still going to stay. I have no desire to get to the other side of the road.” The leader hopper folded his arms and straddled his feet with stubborn determination.

“What you say about those silly bumps on your back are just lies. All lies!” he announced. Many hoppers around him agreed, for they had been influenced by his power of thought.

Soon a great argument raged between groups of hoppers. But, eventually, there was no agreement. The peace in the hopper community had been shattered and they squabbled for many a day. Two sides formed.

One side, led by the cerebral hopper announced that the bumps on their backs were definitely not wings. And the second group assured everyone that hoppers were creatures that were meant to fly and that the bumps would turn into wings and this would rescue them from their plight and they would be able to fly to the other side of the road. The cerebral hoppers simply stamped in anger and defended their position with brilliant intellectual arguments.

Daily the first grasshopper and his supporters, would try to imagine what it was like to have wings. They pretended they could fly. They leapt off the bars of the fence alongside the road. They allowed the current from the passing lorries to waft them along near the edge of the field.

One day, the cerebral hopper came to the first grasshopper and said “You are making a bloody fool of yourself! Why don’t you behave, You’ve got all these silly hoppers trying to do the same daft thing and we are all laughing at you”

The grasshopper replied. “You mind you own business and I’ll mind mine. For ages you have been influencing folks with your brilliant notions, holding them back, putting fear into them.. Do you think that you can stay here for ever, complaining and grousing about the lack of food and the obstacle of the road, knowing you can’t go back, and fearing to go forward? I believe we can simply fly away where the road is no longer an obstacle in our lives to a place of nourishment and peace. And one day, we will.”

The cerebral hopper simply mumbled “Gee, you talk rubbish.” and went away.

But shortly after this his wife cried ” Oh, look! These bumps on your back are getting bigger – I know it. I look at you every day”

“Rubbish!” he snarled the hopper leader, craning round to get a better look.” It’s only because I am getting thinner through lack of food and nourishment.”

Oh, no dear” answered his wife “I don’t think so. Look at mine also.” She turned around and there, definitely, were small vestigial wings.

The shock of being wrong hit the cerebral hopper like a cold shower of rain. “Oh, no!” he cried. “This can’t be” And he ran to find the first grasshopper.

But, instead, he came upon a group of his friends all looking into the sky above the road. “What is it?” he asked them.

“Look. see,” they pointed. “The others have left.”

There silhouetted above the traffic, high against the blue sky was a swarm of locusts, soaring above the road.

A distant voice called down to them “Every hopper grows wings. It’s an evolutionary law. We cannot stop it. It simply happens. It happens even if we don’t believe it. Weeeeeeeee! This feels wonderful! Bye, See you later! Don’t be long.” and they were gone over the traffic, over the trees, over the fence, over the field, into the great unknown.


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