think I had one of the strangest phone calls ever yesterday.Caro had been out for errands in the
morning, before she settled in for her day’s sleep before work, and I stepped
up the stairs to say Hello before she went to bed.
was laughing as I walked into the dim of her room, and she said, “I just had a
passenger.As I opened the back door,
there was a locust sitting on the screen, and when I came in here and started
to take off my pants, something whirred and flew off into the dark over there.”I looked around, into her shoes, beneath a
chair, over beyond the lamp and dropped books, but didn’t see anything.
"Oh, well," she said. "I'll hear her when she starts to sing."
I’d been back downstairs for some time, the phone rang.“There’s a locust on me,” she said. "I’m afraid it will fly away again if I reach
grabbed bathroom Dixie and a paper towel, and
headed up, to find Caro lying in bed beneath the sheet, with a big green-winged
beauty sitting blithely on her hip. Cup capture, towel-scoot in, and out the door
with locust, where I set her down, towel and all.
She regarded me with those huge luminous eyes for a moment. Then “BDDDDDDDDTTTT!”
she said before she flew up into The Tree.
welcome," I said.Why she’d flown back up in that darkened room to sit upon the same
person, I’ll never know, but there you have it.I got off this train, so I’ll just get back
on and see if I can get home.
always called them “locusts” Down South, these cicadas of the merry music, and
they’re called Katy-dids and tree-frogs and other misnomers in lots of
come in a lot of sizes and colors, from green-winged singing jewelry
photo by Paul Davidson, cicada charmer extraordinaire
the big ole Southern Bubba Bugs I’m used to in the south.
look at you with such wise regard, and if you ignore the little red clown cheeks, and just think “face”,
it becomes a definite little countenance, with eyes, nose, mouth, ears---like the stoic funeral mask of a warrior
buried with the Pharoahs.
the import of the unearthing is heralded with as much or more clamor, though not
for glimpse of riches or history, but for the glory of the temporary song.
Summer cicadas are
just a fact of life in the hot climes we’re from.They keep up an unending orchestra, day and
night, for all the hot days.Their
mating song or praying for rain or just sheer gladness to be up out of the long
dark---it’s a joyous thing or a sign of Summer or a confounded nuisance,
depending on how you look at it.
hear it, or you don’t---a lifetime of the sounds of Summer dulls the senses to
it, like a background fan or trains in the night.It’s just THERE, in the air and the trees
and such a constant hum that it’s just in you, like the flow of a river or the
flurr of the wind.
beautiful creatures were the background chorus at our wedding, with the vigor
of the late-afternoon singing drowning out some of the vows.And despite the import of what we were saying,
of the music and the prayers and the cheers and applause, that weee-ooo scritch-and-sing was so gravely, timelessly meaningful a white noise---like the ringing of a billion distant bells, that I would not
swap it for heralds.
think of it---all that jeweled splendor, and all that music---buried beneath the
earth for all those years while our children grew up, our grandchildren were
born, the world spun and changed, and changed again.