Historical perspective: The season of locust
Terrifying, mythical, and even tasty, childhood tales of swarms of locusts.
When I return to my childhood days in the Kingdom’s south, some events return to mind as if they were myths, including the story of locusts.
Back then, locust were like a season of joy! I do not know how the people of my village knew that a locust “storm” was approaching. The news would always come quickly from the villages that the locust passed. I do not know why, but the locust “tribe” came only in the evening. Or was it a coincidence that they seemed to come only at night?
Summer nights in my village were always cold and the sky crystal clear with stars twinkling. Suddenly, we heard things falling from the sky. A locust, and then two, just like hail during a thunderstorm. It was only a minute or two until the sky and stars disappeared behind a “cloud” of locust that landed all at once, rooftops and yards filled with them.
It was terrifying. You couldn’t find a clear footstep through all the locust covering the ground, and they collided with everything.
People lowered their heads to avoid locust “bangs,” and then filled wool bags with the beasts.
The next day, we celebrated with locust meals as people sat in circles, and men and women took out the locust crop, sorted them, and then grilled them. Some pampered themselves by adding tomatoes to their plates. One famous locust recipe is to boil them in huge pots first, then grill or fry them with or without a little butter.
In the following days and weeks, our life as children continued with the locust season as we hunted for the “marshmallow,” which is the big male. There are many types: some of which are gray in color; some of them have dark lines adorning their body and back; and some have prominent eyes and a head like the front of a large Mercedes!
After two or three days, our eyes sparkled with joy when we saw a locust hiding here or there, usually in a quiet place. We walked in the valley until we saw it jumping from our feet and hiding among the plants. We followed it quietly and cautiously, then we pounced on it with our hands. And sometimes, we would not give up from the sting of his sharp limbs that sting similar to a mild electrical shock as it tries to release itself from our hands.
The memory of the locusts passes with many things buried by the years; perhaps a person has lost such natural phenomena. Locust are an insect, but they are a plant rodent, and they only eat fresh leaves so their flesh is smooth and watery. The only thing that harms them are harvests.
I remember this when I see young people today who are afraid of locust, and do not differentiate between them and spiders.