Friday, May 30, 2008

The Cicada Whisperer

I've been spending inordinate amounts of time out in the back carving away at the clay in our backyard, trying to expand our vegetable garden. Because we're leaving for camp soon and I have to get stuff in the groundbeforeweleaveorwewon'thaveanythingtoeatthissummerdon'tyaknow?

Yes, I'm a wee bit stressed.

And we still have the cicadas in residence. I really thought I'd have time to put the pics up on Wednesday but then I really thought I'd have this project in a good place by now andthat'swhatIgetforthinkingandit'sgoingtotorrentiallyraintomorrowandIhavetogetitdoneorI'lljusthavetoredoitandI thinkI'dslitmywristsbeforedoingthatagain.

Whoops, I'll try to keep this within the realm of not-psychotic.

The cicadas. These are the 17-year periodical variety, very special in my opinion. When Friend Husband and I were making our very first move, to Columbia, MO, back when the earth's crust was cooling and I was young and attractive, the parents of these little guys were up in the tree above where my garden is, dropping their progeny into the earth and hoping for the best. Or not. I don't know that bugs hope, but I'm going to go with that thought because I can.

I had no babies myself at the time, unless you want to count my little sister, which I did at the time. But these little guys were dropping into the soil, burrowing way down there, trying to avoid being eaten by moles and whatever else is down there (again, anthropomorphizing). Over time, they developed into whatever form it is they turn into (they come out of the ground looking sort of like worms with big eyes and waspy differentiation between the segments.) Over the last couple of years, they avoided the burgeoning mole population (teeming because they were feasting on my cicada larvae friends and breeding more copiously) to pop out of the ground this very month and make their appearance.

There are very many of them.

While I'm using the tiller (which may I say is the only reason I'm still gardening, I think, being the wuss that I am), all of a sudden there they are. I set Attiller down, pick them up (5 and 6 at a time) and put them somewhere safer. Suddenly, I feel an odd pinching sensation on the back of my legs. The first time I felt it, I thought it was a mosquito, trying to feast on my good rich blood. I slowly raised my almost ankle-length skirt and shrieked when I saw the big black bug on my leg. I batted that one off as a reflex but now I battle my reflexes, pick the cicada gently off, and put it somewhere safe.

I also find myself defending them from the depredations of my children and the neighborhood urchins who "want to kill the ugly bugs" (urchin quote) or are "'fraid of the 'cadas, Mama" (my urchin quote). I told them all about the life cycle and supposed about what their families where doing while the little guys were trying to become the gentle black bugs we see today. I told them that the next time these little guys came out in Clermont County, they'd be in college, or perhaps married and parents themselves. So. Leave. Those Bugs. ALONE. Then I taught them how to gently pick them off them (because, after all, the things fly and do tend to climb up us...I told the children it was because the bugs think they're trees, they're so tall) and release them. I was rewarded by my own little violent urchin's gently letting his cicada fly free and the neighbor's urchin saying, "Wow, those are really cool bugs!" Yay me.

And I returned to the garden where I found about eleventy hundred of the little guys wriggling in the dirt that I'm about to mix with top soil and manure. So I pick them up and yes, I talk to them and tell them to stay over there so they don't get run over or killed by the children. Fly, be free, sorry about those wings, I hope they straighten out, go on over there and climb the tree.

I find myself being the Cicada Whisperer.

And I appreciate your allowing me to say all this or for the rest of the afternoon, I'd be tilling, raking, planting, and having "the Cicada Whisperer" run through my head. Now I can have peace. And I can be the Cicada Whisperer.

1 comment:

msta62 said...

Hi cousin! I'm at my mom's house in Jönköping.. so it is me checking on ya! And no I don't like bugs a bit! Especially not spiders. I think you are very brave picking those bugs up! :-)