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June 18th, 2021

Cycles Of Life
It’s almost over for this emergence. I don’t hear that distinctive whirring song anymore, just some random buzzing. There’s still a bunch of them out and about, but it isn’t the torrent it was only a few days ago. We won’t be seeing them for another 17 years, and I’m not all that confident I’ll be around then. I’ll be 84. Possible, but given my family history and the fact that I’ve already had one heart attack and one heart “event”, not very likely I think. So I’m finding time on my walks to pick a few up off the street, let them climb around my hand for a bit while I’m taking them over to a nearby tree…from which they’ll probably fly off again and back into the street.
I’m seeing a lot of carnage on the pavement around here. Wings, half eaten carcasses. The birds are feasting. I approached one on the sidewalk and it immediately flew off and into a tree. Fine, thinks I, you’re safer there than on the street. Then a bird jumped off another branch and pounced on the branch the cicada landed on and flew off with it. Oh well…bon appétit
Their batteries are running out. So I’m told they really can’t eat, or is it drink, sap or nectar or whatever it is they live on, once the transformation happens. All they have is the energy they emerged from the ground with, and I expect a lot of that was used up in the transformation. They’ve only got enough built-in energy to fly, sing, and reproduce. Then it’s over.
But really…that’s only how it appears to us above grounders. The next emergence actually starts before summer’s end, when the eggs hatch and the next round of nymphs falls to the ground, and digs in. We’ll start seeing a bunch of branch tips with dead leaves…that’s where the eggs were laid. I’m pretty sure by the time we notice that, the next generation will have already hit the ground and started digging. There’s an entire world below the surface we hardly ever notice. That is their world, except at the end, when they become sky creatures, if goofy ones, with a very loud song.
This was my third time around with them. After awhile you find yourself marking the ages of your life by some particular cycles of nature in your neighborhood. This plague year it was especially nice to have the Cicadas, since I never really got to see the Institute swallows return, which is how I know summer’s begun, and probably won’t get to see them take their leave, which is how I know summer is over. Somehow I reckon, when the song is over and the trees are quiet, it’ll seem like summer ended early. At this stage of my life, that’s to be expected, but that’s always how it feels. Summer is always over too soon.

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