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.