Friday, June 5, 2009

Return of the Summer Symphony

Earlier this week, I heard my first annual cicada. Here in the South, that familiar sound is nature’s way of marking the beginning of summer; hot, humid, sultry southern summers just bursting with life and causing pale English/Irish transplants like myself to sweat profusely.

There is something about this sound that is so comforting to me. Primordial in its origin, this siren’s song stretches back beyond the time of man and through it I’m reminded that my life is only a small link in a chain that was forged before the inception of memory. There are many sounds in nature that stir something deep within my psyche: the banshee cry of a pileated woodpecker deep within a forest gorge; the sound of trees dropping fruit into a still pond; the urgent trill of the fowler’s toads after a warm spring rain; and the rocking cadence of katydids in late summer. They are all part of a symphony of life here in the Southern Appalachians and the cicada is an integral part of that melody.

What a strange existence these creature’s possess: spending several years –up to 18 in the periodical cicada– milling around in darkness only to emerge into the light as adults whose sole purpose is to breed and die soon afterward. It recently occurred to me that the cicadas that I see each year represent an exclamation point at the end of a life of secrecy and the hopeful beginning of those to come. What a privilege it is to bear witness to such an amazing world each and every day.

Enjoy the summer.



RMN1 said...


Heather said...

Wow Clay, this is a powerful post. Between the photos and your great prose describing the rhythms of life, you stopped me in my tracks. I really like that last photo. Great job.

James David Beebe, Jr. said...

We want snake pictures, rattler-man.

Clay Bolt said...

RMN1 and Heather,

Thanks for your comments. Heather, I'm glad that you enjoyed the post. That last photo of the cicada wing is one of my personal favorites as well.
Come back soon.

You can't rush good art, or laziness. Additionally, you can't rush bad art either, so either way, it's gonna take a while.

Marvin said...

Great post. The timing of the emergence of cicadas in the Southern Appalachians and Arkansas Ozarks is about the same. I heard my first about a week ago and saw my first Sunday.

clay bolt said...


Thanks for visiting. You certainly live in another beautiful part of the Southeast as well.

Enjoy the summer!