Cicada Diary

 Cicada, Cicada, Crazy Cicada!

Cicada, Cicada, Crazy Cicada!

One can study a caterpillar forever and never be able to predict a butterfly.
Buckminster Fuller

Are you living the life that wants to live through you?
Parker Palmer

It is cicada time here in Middle Tennessee. First cicadas sighted in my yard on May 9. Little creepy crawlies and empty shells. Weirdness. Last time the cicadas were at a minimum when I lived in another part of town that did not have as many of these little critters. Now I'm in the cicada part of town.

The 13-year cicadas began emerging over a week ago, but five days of cooler weather left the little creatures hanging onto branches and plant stems, just waiting for warmer weather to return. Now a warm front is moving in, and the trees are alive with the sound of cicadas mating (the male "sings" to his lady love). 

I like to imagine how it feels for the cicadas to emerge from thirteen years in the dark earth and to be born again into a new world of wings, wind, sun, eyes, and song (and sex!). What would it feel like to enter into a life so different than anything that could be imagined in the old life? While cicadas, with their little red eyes and buggy bodies may not have the elegance of the butterfly, they are still expressions of the Life Force and metamorphosis. I enjoy them as sign of abundance and nature's strange and wonderful generosities. What strange and wonderful metamorphosis have you been going through lately? Can you sense the new life that wants to unfold for you today?

Late May

Cicadas seem dizzy drunk with the heat and the love. Windshield splatters on the freeway. Cicadas! Cicadas! I took a photo of two cicadas mating, back to back, wings spread over each other. 

They’re quiet at night, when it’s stormy and wet, or when it gets too cool for their comfort. Early in the morning the cicada whirring hum begins. It sounds like the aliens are landing as all the trees start coming alive with sound. Later in the day, the full chorus surrounds the house, and like a giant cicada peppergrinder, the sound becomes deafening. 

Yet I find something wonderful in this expression of the Life Force. Happy cicadas mating and flying about, dizzy with love and life. Little eyes boggling at everything, especially a human being coming onto the horizon. 

Bug-eyed with wonder, they don’t attack, they don’t run. The little cicada sits on the petunia plant, just being, just living. Alive in so many ways. I coo, “Cicada, cicada” as I point my camera and take a cicada portrait. Immortalized in digital media, now the little cicada decides it’s time to join its brethren. Wings whirr and the cicada lifts swiftly into the air. Cicadas! Cicadas!

End of May

Lots of little dead cicadas in my driveway, on my steps. (not to mention the splats! on my windshield). Guess they partied their brains out. They came into this world with that "OMG" look and seem to be leaving with the same. The party to end all parties, drunk with life itself. An orgy, not a potluck. What a long strange journey it's been. Thirteen years in the ground as a sap sucking grub. Then the nymphs seek the light, emerging from the dark underground world. Metamorphosis! Suddenly bingo bango: eyes, legs, wings, sun, wind, rain, storms, SEX! Mindblowing cicada sex leaves them reeling on the pavement, wondering what hit them. 

Then a strange urge to dig a hole in some twig on a tree and lay eggs. Party's over. Drop dead with pleasure. Sated. And eventually little white grubs emerge and drop to the ground, going into the earth to spend the next thirteen years in solitary confinement sucking sap, waiting for the next party to begin.

I learned that the male cicadas will chirp (one got in my car). Someone told me that each cicada has its own unique chirp. Some are low, some are high. So what we're hearing is a cicada men's chorus in perfect harmony. I'm getting rather fond of these little critters (as long as they keep good boundaries) and feel as if there is something sacred and healing in the songs they sing. I like the spaceship landing sound they make early in the morning as they are tuning up. Somehow the sound from the distant trees blend so that you could close your eyes and imagine an alien spaceship landing. It is the Life Force expressing. 

I love thinking about "Where were you 13 years ago?" 1998 was the year The Art of Abundance was published by Honor Books. I didn't even start coming to Center for Spiritual Living Nashville till 2003. Daddy and Marcia were still alive thirteen years ago. I was just starting to be weaned from depending too much on a dear friend. I recorded my 5 song Golden Moment demo. It was my best financial year ever--never been topped during the rollercoaster ride of the last decade. Music Row was still intact, not knowing that it would all implode soon. What a long strange journey it has been. 

My mantra for the cicadas: "Cicadas! Cicadas! Crazy cicadas!"

Early June

Now the cicadas are getting quieter and quieter. Last week’s frenzy has mellowed. They are no longer flying into my face or zooming over the roof. I sat under a cicada-filled tree and saw that many were just sitting on the branches. There was a slightly fishy smell, so I moved away from them. I almost felt they were like party animals recovering from a hangover. 

Cicada conversations overheard the other day: “The party’s over…” “Not now dear, I have a headache.” “ She just isn’t interested in sex any more, Harry. Always complaining about what I did to her!” “He still wants sex and all I want to do is dig a hole and lay my eggs. It’s hard to be in the mood when you’re hormonal and pregnant.” 

End of June:

The last of the cicadas are gone. Branch ends litter the lawn, a sign that the eggs have hatched and the larvae are making their way back into the earth for another 13-year cycle. I miss the sound of that life force humming. As temperatures rise the usual summer cicadas will begin singing their love songs in the heat of late July and August. It will be a different song, beautiful in its own way. 

I wonder where I will be when the next cohort of cicadas emerge thirteen years from now?