A Cicada Salute

31 May

Shells left behind after cicadas molt

Yes, the cicadas have descended on Woodbridge, Va. They’re flitting through our yards in reckless abandon, colliding with trees, people, and each other. They’re mating with urgency and then dying in heaps. And, they’re CHIRPING (in a way that can only be described with capital letters). It’s a non-stop, brake-squeal of a song that rivals the alien ray-gun sound effects in a 1960s Sci-fi movie.

Our dogs and cats are in Petopia, romping in our yards like children at a birthday party. They tease, chase, and bat the poor things, then gorge themselves silly; the ground is littered with slimy, half-eaten egg sacs. It’s like canine caviar, except that when you factor in rug cleaning and vet costs, it’s much, much more expensive.


Cicadas begging to come inside

Our streets and trees are covered with empty larval shells, and the fat-winged, locust-like critters are clinging to nearly every other square inch of vacant space in the neighborhood. This morning our front door screen looked like something even Steven King’s imagination couldn’t have fathomed—their beady red-orange eyes (at least I think those are eyes) were staring at me as if their very survival depended on getting indoors.

On the up side, they don’t bite, they don’t smell, and they don’t seem to be eating the leaves. In fact they aren’t doing any great damage at all, as far as I can tell.

So I must confess, I love it all, from the satisfying crunch of shells under my car tires to the incessant morning sonatas, each day louder than the last. I find it fascinating, just knowing this is a once-in-17-years experience that runs its course in six weeks. It’s one of those things about God that makes me giggle: He never runs out of ideas.


Isn’t he lovely, in a bug sort of way?

You know, when I look at them up close, they’re actually almost beautiful. Their faces are somewhat cartoon-ish. . .smiling even, and the orange trim around the intricate, gossamer-lace wings matches their eyes.

I’m oddly inspired by the way these creatures pack an entire lifetime into six weeks of soaring from tree to tree and singing as if their lives depend on it. (Technically, I know it does, but stay with me here…I’m trying to be poetic.)

Imagine having that kind of abandon—to live every minute so fully that there isn’t time to worry or seek vengeance (that’s a good thing for some dogs I know), and to add your voice to an ever-growing choir until the whole East Coast vibrates with song. It makes me think, what a blessed species we are, that God gives us more than six weeks to taste joy, and so many more reasons to sing.

Imagine what it would sound like if we joined our voices together with such enthusiasm, and what we could accomplish if we focused as intently on fulfilling our purpose.

So before my cicada enthusiasm wanes, I’m going to look at these critters with a new attitude, and take a tip from their lifestyle. Are you with me? Sing loudly today. Wake from your slumber and celebrate life! And get that dog in the house.

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