I heard singing from the woods. I was out splitting wood and generally puttering around the cabin, and the best thing about outside chores is nature's accompaniment, so I stopped puttering and gave it a listen.
It is not an especially catchy melody. Just an extended, one-note anthem resonating from a tree branch somewhere. But it's a summertime song, one that hearkens to sultry afternoons, grilling and cold brew on the patio, and....uh-oh, an end to all of that. The song of the cicada is played in the dog days of summer, and while we cherish every one of those days, and every degree of warmth in them, we know they are waning. The kids will be back in school soon, then the leaves change color, then it snows. For five months.
The cicadas know it, too, and make good use of this conclusion to summer. I suppose you could say a cicada is a somewhat less attractive insect, if you were one to appraise the beauty of bugs. With slimy skin, a wrinkly mug, and three "bonus" eyes on its head, the cicada is mostly alluring to, well, other cicadas. The attraction is apparently mutual, however, as about 2500 species of cicada around the world have been discovered and named, and the bug is the focus of poems and folklore in places like China and France. In many places the winged creatures are eaten as a regular dietary component. Deep-fried cicadas, anyone? How about cicada kabobs, cicadas blended into ice cream, or banana bread cicadas? Um, just a plain ol' burger for me, please.
Sometimes maligned and wrongly accused of links to the swarming locust family, the cicada simply minds its own business as a big, slimy, three-eyed harbinger of the end of summer. They determinedly tunnel their way from underground lairs to the outside world, mate with verve, and sing. Oh, I guess it isn't so bad, hearing their call at this time of year. That glorious time of colored leaves and frosty nips and flannel is close, and even though we grumble a bit about shivering and plunging thermometers, the change in seasons reflects who we are. Embrace each other in your own song of summer, and play it over and over.
The cicadas are singing. So, what better plan than to just sit back on the patio, with that cold brew, and listen to the music?