Wednesday, August 17, 2011
A Pleasant Encounter
As I think I mentioned before, we have cicadas here in Ohio.
We hear them a lot more often than we see them.
That's probably because they tend to sit way up high in the trees and we don't.
Did I mention that I heard my first cicada of the year on July 3? And that they're called 90-day locusts because we allegedly get our first frost 90 days after they start singing? I'm pretty sure I did, but I'm too lazy to check.
I mean I'm too busy to check.
And my intern is on break.
Anyway, even though cicadas are pretty reclusive most of the time and pretty evasive the rest, I usually do manage to see one up close on at least one day each summer.
Today just happens to have been one of those days.
I was watering my south-facing hostas when I saw it, sitting pretty on a leaf stalk.
Cicadas are pretty docile when they want to be. The one on my leaf stalk was apparently in the mood to be very docile. In fact, I thought he might be dying, so I continued my watering so he could die in peace (if that's what he was intent on doing).
Another possibility is that he had just emerged from a long sleep underground and was waiting for his wings to dry and harden after shedding his protective skin. I didn't see anything nearby that looked like a shedded skin, though, and this seems to be pretty late in the year for such carrying-ons, but... you never know with cicadas. I suspect they sometimes do things just to toy with our minds.
When I was done with the rest of my watering I came back to see how matters were progressing. The cicada seemed stronger somehow - and more alert. Or at least higher and straighter on the leaf stalk.
Did I mention that I bent over and pet him a little bit the first time I saw him? Well, I did. He didn't seem to mind. Nonetheless, I soon stopped. This being Ohio, there's probably a law against cicada petting. Or at least public cicada petting. (I think it's only in Utah that they care what you do with a cicada in the privacy of your own home.)
Our second face-to-face meeting of the day turned out to be much briefer than the first. While I stood there contemplating his big eyes and pondering whether or not to go get my camera, he flew off. Cicada take-offs are always dramatic and quick - not unlike hasty flying saucer take-offs in some old 1950s movies. They're ungainly, but incredibly fast. And they make a weird, otherworldly sound halfway between a buzzing and a clicking.
As usual, that otherworldly sound faded off into the distance all too rapidly.
Despite the lack of photographic evidence, I really *did* experience this encounter.
And with any luck at all, I'll enjoy a similar experience next summer.
In the meantime, here's a dramatic re-creation of what I saw when I first laid eyes on my hosta today.
As with most dramatic re-creations, some things might have been smaller in real life than they are made to seem in the retelling.
Posted by DJ at 5:55 PM