Saturday, May 25, 2013

Saturday Morning - Cicadas

Greene County, Virginia

The birds were in an uproar around here last week. I stood in the yard under the trees Tuesday around dusk  and wondered what all the fuss was about. A cat maybe, or a snake. Agitated birds flew in and out of the branches overhead. The plaintive meow of a catbird came from somewhere along the fence. It was a pleasant spring evening and I could see nothing to threaten what should have been a peaceful settling into night.

The cicadas also came out last week. An indistinct buzz at first, like a distant alarm, but by the middle of the week the noise was nearly overbearing. Birds enact their ritual of nest and egg and chicks each spring, but cicadas experience the joy of spring renewal but once every 17 years. They celebrate with a loud and continuous unison chorus, presumably to make up for lost springs.

Perhaps the unrelenting and monotonous song of the cicada is what put the birds on edge.  Seventeen years is a long time, and the birds heard the cicada song for the first time in their short life. I remember the cicadas of 17 years ago, and it is not impossible to think I might hear them again 17 years hence. Their noise puts me a bit on edge too.

Last night the cicadas and the birds were quiet. I suspect the cool weather on Friday is responsible for the cicadas' silence but maybe their song is done, and another 17 years of cicada silence is beginning.  In the meantime, my aging refrigerator has started to make a chirping sound rather like the song of a cicada; it will need to be replaced before long. Life goes on.


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