I love the sounds of summer. It's like going to a concert. In the string section we have the various bugs that hum, buzz, whine and chirp. The woodwinds are smaller birds with their flute tones and the higher piccolos that can cut the wax in your ears. Our woodwinds have been a little off-key lately, because we've had so many baby birds following their parents around the garden lately. For the horn section we have the occasional flock of Canada geese flying overhead. They split their time among the various lakes, ponds and fields in the area. Then we have percussion. Our main musicians in this section are a red bellied woodpecker, who loves his job so much we can hear him laughing in the trees, and a downy woodpecker family.
But there was something missing. I realized what it was yesterday. It starts like one member of the audience, a couple of uncertain claps, and then swells into a crescendo of thunderous applause before they suddenly hush for the next movement. The cicadas are back.
I love cicadas. They are as unlikely a candidate for flight as the bumblebee. Fat bodies seem aerodynamically challenged, but somehow they manage to float from tree to tree. The wings are beautiful. My children love finding them. They look for all the world like fairy's wings and it's hard to imagine the delicate, iridescent appendages on the backs of these insects, which look, for all the world like mutated giant green flies. Their unusual life cycle involves burrowing into the ground as nymphs and staying under there for years before they emerge and moult into adults, called imagines (cool name!). We've found many cicada moults over the years. Marina has displayed them in her museum and the kids show them off to their friends. It's a perfect sculpture of the final nymphal instar (another cool name!) stage.
The sound of cicadas used to sadden me when I was a kid. I never noticed the noise until the end of August, so it always reminded me that school was just around the corner. I'm glad my kids don't make such associations. I prefer the idea of an enthusiastic cicada applause to the natural symphony surrounding them.
And so another page to add for "You can learn a lot from watching animals."
Today's lesson: Show your appreciation.