It was sunny and warm so I carried my afternoon snack carefully through the house, heading for the shade of the east-facing front porch. “I know
it is cool out there”, said Mother, “but it is covered with grasshoppers. Do you want to go out?” I assured her that I did and that I liked grasshoppers “Mom, they are interesting.” Mother smiled and murmured something about not being surprised.
There were a lot of grasshoppers I noticed, as I crossed the porch and sat down on the first step after brushing several of my hopping friends out of my way. Doris and I enjoyed these little flying beasts who descended on us in waves from time to time. We had discovered that if we caught one and squeezed it carefully, the response was predictable. It would promptly spit out a dark, brown, sticky juice. We would release the first one and catch another. Same squeeze, same result – “Spitting tobacco juice” we called this behaviour.
Tobacco juice we knew about. The Danish enclave which formed our district, was comprised of many who came directly from “The Old Country” – Denmark. Cigar smoking was common among these new Canadians, but so was getting their nicotine another way, from chewing tobacco. As they worked around the farm, the hired men usually had a lump tucked in one cheek. They worked, they chewed, and they spat out brown tobacco juice. The old men sat in rocking chairs by the kitchen stoves watching life swirl around them, and chewed a wad of tobacco. Beside them were spittoons, jug-like affairs. Usually they were stationed on a spread of newspapers – to catch the errant streams of juice that missed the jug! Doris and I knew tobacco juice, and the grasshoppers spit certainly looked just like it. Continue reading