The cicadas came out early this year.
But then everything about the year has been off – no winter to speak of, followed by an aggressively hot spring that furiously leaped into late July weather: Ima let you do your solstice thang, summer, but first Ima broil the world…
At the Charles manse we’re planning for an early autumn. Say…late August?
Lightening bugs illuminated the early May evenings. On one occasion this surprised a gaggle of children intent on a ‘new’ game; one of the twins (either Darcy or Marcy, it’s astonishingly easy to confuse them) had told the Astas of a game their moms had played as a child called ‘Red Rover’. Immediately following an ‘explanation’ of the rules” (No, Chaz, you can’t do cannonballs!) two ragged, opposing lines of children formed, hands clasped, sweet voices singing out “Red Rover, Red Rover, send Owa Bouso over…!” into the the dusk.
One of the girls, a little redhead, kept tossing her hair as though to rid herself of a gnat just out of the corner of her eye. Suddenly she screamed “Lightning bugs!”
Andjust like that: POOF! …a sojourn into their parents’ past was lost as swiftly as young love.
The lush lawns were awash with flowing children, the mindless swarm intent upon beautification by dismemberment: the glow bugs survived less than seconds upon capture, their luminescent abdomens quickly pinched off and applied to faces, bare shoulders , and of course fingers -miniture, glowing summer mood rings.
Late May saw the first of the summer’s evening backyard feasts.
On a beautiful Saturday evening the neighbors (four houses south, in that lovely grey and light blue cottage?) set their tiki torches flickering into the night. Slender black wisps of smoke reached from incandescent flame tip toward the dusky skies providing a smokey barrier against the black flies and other nascent blood suckers. Rum from Nepal 1, good food and brilliant conversation (it was good rum) screened out whatever other mites might have snuck through.
And so late Spring went…until the June bugs began their suicide run.
Many of nature’s denizens are hypnotic to watch, their flights graceful, even balletic: dragonflies, honey-stoned bees, hummingbirds. But not June bugs. June bugs are clumsy tank-like insects that blunder into porches, screen doors, the sides of houses and small children with hardy ‘thunks.’ In past years the early mornings would find the scarabs littering the lawn, dew shiny on their hard black shells.
But there hasn’t been dew on the lawn since late April.
In fact there haven’t really been lawns per se in the same time frame.
My mid-June it was apparent the grass had contacted Stage III sun cancer. Old-timers throughout the city could be spotted in their yards, shoulders slumped and heads slowly shaking. The grass was as dry and brittle as hay: Stage IV by mid-July was the forgone conclusion. The optimistic silvery arc of thousands of lawn sprinklers raining across the city was but a pallative, opium to ease the way back into the dark earth.
This year the June bugs lie blackly on a pale gold sickbed, lumpy manifestations of mortality.
Warren used to snack on them.
His open mouthed crunching was particularly disgusting.
Cicadas Warren snapped out of the air, child’s play. Where June bugs are clumsy, cicadas are blindly insane, willing to fly into and attach themselves to most anything, including the rough coat of a Rottweiler. They’re the kamikaze pilots of the insect world, as apt to fly directly into a bear’s gaping maw as a leafy limb.
Warren found cicadas too far predictable: flop sweat from Newt Gingrich.
Our new dog…well, our new dog has issues. Not the least of which is many mature cicadas are larger than her.
Yes, she’s been weened and is a proud 12 weeks old. But she’s prone to drop into a narocleptic slumber at any second 2 and besides (the pup’s quizzical look begs) what has this over-sized flying cockroach done to me? Live and let live, I always…oooh oooh oooh is that a flower!!!
When the cicadas began to sing in early June FluffyRainbowSparkleHoney (there is as yet some disagreement between the Astas as to furball’s final appellation) cocked her head in that unique canine tilt that signals…”What the fuck?” Then she took a nap.
FluffyRainbowSparkleHoney also arrived far earlier than expected. Years really. I was wasn’t ready for another dog. And certainly did not have a mini plush toy in mind. But children push our boundaries by their mere existence. And when they cheat, framing their queries with ‘innocent’ and heartfelt sentimentality, it is impossible for parents to deny them.
It is, in any event, for this parent.
Nature will proceed apace, the leaves will soon also turn pale gold 3 and autumnal red, the evening air will become thankfully crisp, and the empty husks of the cicadas will still be found attached to the oddest things: chain-link fences, playsets, tree boles, small dogs.
I mean really small dogs.
I just hope the September snows aren’t unusually fierce; it’s entirely possible we could lose FluffyRainbowSparkleHoney in a storm that drops all of 3 inches.
- Yes, Nepal. Our Friend and his Better Half were also in attendance that evening. In fact Our Friend offered a wager that Nepal only bottled the spirit, notably being famous for the Himalayas, dour Sherpas, and The Golden Child. This was offered in jest, but no one took him up on his offer as we all thought much the same. The next morning, via a waaaaaaaaaay too early text, O.F. informed us he was full of shit (a fact we were all well acquainted with); Nepal has indeed a long and storied rum manufacturing industry. They win international awards for the stuff. ↩
- Perfectly normal at this age, the vet expensively insists. ↩
- In fact they already have, yet another signal of the strained summer. ↩