Thursday, August 13, 2009

Cicada Time




Bob was sitting on the picnic table the other morning, smiling and pleased with himself. He’d been out dancing in the moonlight, even though it was unusually chilly over night. I was sitting on the bench, patting him. He seemed entirely happy, kneading air with his paws and showing me his spotted belly, playing at being a Domesticated Animal.

The first cicadas are starting in our area, the genetic misfits who awaken on the far edge of their particular Bell Curve. They don’t sing much and flame out early. When one fell from a nearby maple, buzzing like a clockwork toy unwinding, Bob leapt from the table with a bound which would have done a cougar credit and made short work of it.

(It’s humbling, the way he can tune me out. Snap! Gone on cat business!)

I suppose he ate the poor confused thing, like he does everything else. Cicadas, with heads that are pure fat, are one of Mother Nature’s most sought-after crunchy snacks. Birds adore them. I’ve even seen squirrels eat them, these winged, green-armored Doritos of the insect world. I would think the wings and feet would make for an over-ridingly icky mouth feel, but not coming from an insect-eating culture, I’m not the one to judge.

I love cicadas. When I was small, some imaginative family member told me that their wings--see-through, gossamer, etched in green--were fairy wings. I guess what I really love is their deafening song, which can be as loud as 120 decibels up close. They are one of the few noisy things in which I take pleasure. It’s Nature, after all, like waves crashing on shore. The males on my trees start; the neighbor’s cicadas shout out an answer. With the trees arching green overhead, it’s my favorite sort of chorale.


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