18 July 2007

Steamy Cicada Song

It's been a steamy, sweaty, bright day here in the Ozarks, perfect for the first cicada song of the year. Just before dark they began their own unique form of communication and they've been going at it since then. We've been without rain long enough so I had to water all the potted plants today, which usually takes about an hour these days. It would have been a lot more pleasant if it wasn't so hot but the great thing about watering plants in the summertime is that instant sprinkler called the hose. I can stand in sunlight with sweat dripping off me and all it takes is one shot of the well water and I'm nice and comfortable again.

I'm so glad the cicadas are in full swing again, their song is a timeless and haunting summer staple. It turns out that their song is actually the males calling to females in hopes of having some bug sex. In ancient Chinese folklore the cicada was a symbol of regeneration and immortality and thus played a large role within Buddhism. Their discarded shells were even used in Chinese folk medicine to cure earaches. They are fascinating critters and a wonderful sign of the summer heat. I remember being a child and not quite understanding what that summer sound was at all. When I was very small I think I was actually afraid of cicada song and didn't understand for years that it was just a bug making that weird sound similar to the crickets. As far as bugs go they are rather big and yet I don't ever remember seeing them when I was young, I just remember hearing them and wondering what that sound meant. I know now it's just a bug mating ritual but still I wonder what else might be in their music. What wisdom of the ages or knowledge from nature might one hear in cicada song? I guess now is the time to find out.

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