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Donna Barker

Looking for some grasshoppers

Lots of people may keep family photos on their desks at work, but I’m not one of them.

I have a grasshopper on my desk.

About 3 inches long and an inch high, this plastic green grasshopper is a very prized possession because it reminds me of Utah. And Utah reminds me of family.

My husband and I were in Utah in October to visit our daughter, son-in-law and granddaughters. One sunny day, I was out in the yard with my daughter, Clarissa, and granddaughter, Brynnan, getting ready to enter the lemonade stand business. We had most everything set up — the table and chair, the lemonade, the cookies, and most importantly, the money box.

With just moments left before our grand opening, all of a sudden this giant, one-legged grasshopper jumps out and lunges at my daughter, or so I have been told. I didn’t see the incident firsthand, so I’m not sure about the lunging or even about the one-legged description. All I know is my daughter is jumping and screaming, which caused my granddaughter to jump and scream, which in turn, caused me to jump and scream.

Sometimes life can be a chain reaction of events.

What makes this little incident more memorable is the fact that none of us are scared of grasshoppers. Apparently for my daughter, it was just the shock of having something jump out at you. For my granddaughter and me, it was a simple case of following the leader, even though we weren’t sure where our leader was headed.

But for whatever reasons, we laughed and laughed at our little grasshopper encounter until our faces turned red and our sides hurt. Every time we seemed to have ourselves under control, we thought about the absurdity of being frightened by the little grasshopper and how we must have looked to the neighbors, and we got the giggles again. Only they weren’t little giggles, they were more on the guffaw level.

Sometimes the best times are the unexpected times.

We had a lot of fun on our trip to Utah. We had some planned outings and some quiet evenings together, but that unexpected adventure with the one-legged grasshopper is probably what I remember most, with its deep-down belly laughs and the joy of living life together.

As I look back on 2013, I think of some of those unexpected moments which just melted my heart and strengthened my soul, like the time my granddaughter, Addi, told me that she would miss me when I left. Then there was the time my granddaughter, Emma, took my hand and held it the whole way to the mall; the way my granddaughter, Brooklyn’s, eyes shine when we see each other on Facetime.

Those moments can’t be programmed. They just happen.

Probably like many people, I look ahead to the new year with a little bit of fear and trembling. I can plan and organize and do my best, but I know there’s no way I’m really prepared for what will happen, good or bad, in 2014.

Yes, I’m sure the new year will hold some challenges for all of us, but I’m also hopeful we will all encounter a few grasshoppers along the way.

BCR Senior Staff Writer Donna Barker can be reached at dbarker@bcrnews.com.