Sunday, September 23, 2007

Summer Appreciation: Cicadas and Company


It’s the first official day of fall, so I had better write this now.

I love cicadas.

When I was little, we often found their exo-skeletons left behind on the trunks of trees in my grandparents’ yard. I suppose I must have seen these and played with them from a very young age, because I don’t remember ever feeling squeamish about them. They were just a normal part of life, and they fascinated me and were fun to play with—especially if you could find someone who did not regard them as normal and got scared by the sight of one appearing on their shoulder or elsewhere!

I think the cicadas themselves are beautiful, in an insect-y way. Kind of like plump dragonflies. I love their iridescent colors, and their amazingly complex wings.

But most of all, I love their singing. Or droning, as some would call it. And I love all the other insects who sing along with them on summer nights, and I’m sorry I’m not sure who’s a cricket, who’s a katydid, or even who’s a frog. I’m sure there are creatures out there making sounds, creatures whose names I don't even know.

In the summer, our front porch becomes a box seat in a concert hall, with the insects providing the orchestra.

It probably goes back to childhood again, because something about that music soothes me like a lullaby. It conjures up memories from Arkansas and Tennessee, of places that felt like home because they were home. Sitting outside on Grandmother’s terrace. Or just pulling up chairs to sit outside her back door and look at the stars and watch her moonflower open up to the night. Playing out in our yard in the country in Arkansas, until it was just too dark, and we had to go in.
And that background music of cicadas and their companions always there, humming the day to its end, providing yet another example of God’s creativity.

This photo is one I found on the Internet, and I chose it because of the symbolism. The new life coming out of the old shell, the intentional act of leaving behind that which is no longer needed. It’s not something I find easy in my life; who knows how the cicadas feel about it? But they do it, and their life continues.

Once my grandmother and I were in her kitchen and could hear the birds singing outside. “I wonder what they’re saying?” she said, as if she wanted to hear my answer.

“I think they’re saying, ‘God is good, God is good, God is good,’” was my reply. (If the heavens are declaring the glory of God, the birds must be, too, I’ve thought for a long time. And Grandmother was going through a very hard time then, hard to witness, so I think I needed to hear this myself.)

When I hear cicadas sing, I think it’s the same song. And that’s one thing I love about summer, and about God. He is good, and He will bring us through every leaving-behind we are faced with, until the Day comes when there will be no more leaving behind.
And now, welcome to fall, as we leave summer behind.

6 comments:

Gioietta said...

I hope I can sing that too, with all my heart.

Lucy said...

A lovely autumn meditation, Sheila.

Sheila said...

Oh, Lucy, I wish I had your skill (and your camera) for taking pictures of the cicadas! I have a couple of them but can't get a good picture....

silly me said...

that's beautiful. i love them too. and the songs... i so agree. arkansas can be beautiful, can't it?

thank you for the observations.

(i'm a real-life friend of Lisa's, btw.)

Lisa said...

Oh Sheila,

I'm reading this on the day of Jan's memorial service and the day following our trip to Brownsville to visit the cemetaries where our treasured grandparents are buried. The thought of new life from old is very close to me today.

We did have wonderful childhood experiences didn't we? To grow up surrounded by people who not only loved art, music, and nature but who sought to find God in the midst of it.

Truly we are blessed women.

Lawrence Underwood said...

Hey, don't leave out the men in that blessing!