July 2, 2007

The cicadas are in full song. Today I saw my first molted cicada skin clinging to the fence.


My boy Tom is learning to identify such things as insect noises. He is fascinated by crickets and is tuned in to the cicadas’ drone as well–though he does not agree with me on their name.

Tom: “I hear a potato.”

Brett: “It’s called a cicada. Can you say ‘cicada’?”

Tom: “No. It’s a potato.”

The summer before my mother died, I came home to help her get to her radiation therapy. In the years I had been gone, the space in the house that I had previously occupied filled up with other things and projects, so I lived in a pickup camper trailer on blocks in the yard. I worked the night shift at a factory so as to be available to drive her to the hospital in the morning. That summer, the dark and the trees spread over the camper, and when I arrived home at 4am and climbed into the bunk over where the cab would be, the cicadas’ two-tone glissando often kept me up until the sun rose.


11 Responses to “Cicadas”

  1. Evonne Says:

    How cute. But where does the potato come in?
    Did you enjoy the cicadas at 4:00a.m. in your camper or were they driving you crazy?

  2. Ale Says:

    I love potatoes, too.

    Your mom memory took me immediately to my mom’s radiation months. It was also summer and she was treated in central Florida, so mugginess and cicadas will be forever linked to radiation therapy for us, too.

  3. Preacher Mom Says:

    Would you believe that my dad happened upon a cicada coming out of its old ‘shell’? And he was able to grab his camera in time to photograph it? Looks like something straight out of a sci-fi movie!

    The song of the cicada is forever tied to my grandparents house on the farm. Good, good memories.

  4. Alex Says:

    Evonne —

    I think it is just that ‘potato’ and ‘cicada’ sound similar to Thomas.

  5. Matthew Says:

    I remember you picking cicada shells off the fence that ran along 30th street in Austin, seperating the yellow brick student duplexes from the outside world.

  6. sheepdays Says:

    Evonne, I’m not sure that it was either one. Their song just seemed to be part of that summer.

    Ale, I’m sorry to hear about your mother’s radiation, and I hear you about how certain sounds can set off particular memories. Is she ok?

    Preacher Mom, wow! I’d love to see those pictures. The one thing scarier looking than the empty shells are the adults. Wall-eyed creatures from the deep. And boy, are they noisy!

    Matt, I’ve been doing it for decades now. Crazy?

  7. Evonne Says:

    Man, am I slipping. I am going to have to get with it or James is going to have one of THOSE grandmas.

  8. Liz Says:

    EVonne, I am one of those grandmas. Welcome to my world. In our family those childhood words live on forever. Our son to say he wanted “Ahmytone”, whice we finially realized meant “ice cream cone.” Alexandra’s word for umbrella was “untumbrella”. They are so very precious, and you’ll being using James’ baby-words, too.

    Brett, those special sounds, and even smells can evoke such powerful memories, don’t you think?

  9. Ale Says:

    Yes, she’s in remission now, thanks 🙂 She was rushed to Florida (a Guate doctor had a practice there) and I flew from DC for the 4th of July. They were strange days.

  10. Charles Says:

    When I graduated seminary back in 1987, it was the 17th year cicada invasion in Louisville. There were MILLIONS of these creatures singing in the air! Buddists were immobilized because you couldn’t take a step without walking on them. One of the groundkeepers using a trimmer was covered by cicadas drawn to the drone of the two cycle motor.

  11. zorra Says:

    I found a cicada shell in the yard just this afternoon. To me, no sound is more evocative of summer than the call of the cicadas.

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