Archive for May, 2008

The Cicadas Sing to Find a Girl

May 23, 2008

(A cicada gives me the evil eye)

The seventeen-year cicada emergence is beginning to taper off around here.  Either that, or our many birds have discovered just how tasty cicadas are.  In the morning, I see fewer and fewer cicadas, but the eerie serenade they sing to find a mate has grown in volume.  They alternate singing with flying clumsily about, until they finally bump into a girl cicada, and without further ado, they mate.  Soon after mating, they die.  But at least a few cicadas in my yard were immortalized forever in the many photographs I took.

  (Bug on bug-eaten leaf)

(Cicada hangs on a blade of grass)

(Cicada on rose bush leaf)

(Cicada in the daisy field)

(Mockingbird with possible cicada takeout for dinner. [I’ll have that bug to go, please.]  Sorry about the fuzziness…I couldn’t get close enough)

Perhaps you are glad to know that this is the last cicada post, at least for another seventeen years.   Hope it hasn’t “bugged” my readers too much.  I mean, I sure wouldn’t want to make a “pest” of myself.  🙂




The Cicadas Come Out of Their Shells

May 21, 2008

(Adult cicada soon after shedding its nymphal skin.)

The cicadas continue to emerge from the earth.  Every morning, I find new ones basking in the morning sun, waiting until their wings expand enough to fly.  Here are some images I took of newly-emerged adult cicadas.  As you can see, they are quite anemic looking when they first break free of their nymphal skins, but they soon transform.  In the first photo, you can see how shriveled their wings look when they first come out of their shell.  In the second,  the wings have expanded, but are still not ready to fly.  But just hours later, they are ready to take to the sky, to begin their rather eerie serenade to find  a mate.

(Newly-emerged adult cicada)

(Fully-developed adult cicada resting on my daisies)

Isn’t that an amazing transformation?  If you would like to see yet more cicada shots, come back tomorrow.  As you may have guessed, I took quite a few.  🙂  I hope you don’t mind indulging my cicada obsession for just one more day.

(And on a side note, Happy Birthday to my son Benjamin.  One last year of being a teenager before he becomes an adult.  🙂  I love you so much, Benjamin, and am so glad you are my son.)


The Cicadas Find the Light

May 19, 2008

Here at our little mountain homestead, we’ve been delighted to witness the emergence of the seventeen-year cicadas this past week.  It’s remarkable to realize that when these cicadas went underground as newly-hatched nymphs seventeen years ago, my children were two and three years old. 

It’s funny—I keep hearing people talk about how ugly the cicadas are.  Maybe it’s just my odd sense of beauty, but I think that they are quite magnificent.  Okay, maybe they look a little pale and strange when they first emerge from their shells, but after a few hours they have wings that look like stained glass in the sunlight. 

They actually emerge twice—once as nymphs from underground, then as adults when they shed their shells, or more accurately their nymphal skins.  I took these pictures of the hollow golden shells they leave behind, still clinging tenaciously to the leaf or flower or grass they first latched onto.

My dial-up connection won’t allow me to post all my pictures at once, so come back tomorrow for pictures of the adults after they’ve emerged from their shells.  Yes, they’re rather pallid, pasty, and sickly looking at first.  Who wouldn’t be after seventeen years underground?  🙂  But they change dramatically after only a few hours in the daylight.  It is an amazing and miraculous transformation.  Or, at least…I think so.

Little Signs of Spring #5

May 16, 2008

Harlequin Cabbage Bugs Doin’ What Comes Naturally

Such beautiful but destructive bugs…this summer they will no doubt be chowing down on our squash.  But aren’t they lovely?  My National Audubon Society Field Guide says they are “proportioned like a heraldic shield.”

Little Signs of Spring #4

May 14, 2008

Ant on Petal on Rock:  I was taking a shot of the tulip petal that fell on the rock after the rain, when an ant wandered into my picture, pausing to drink from a raindrop.

Little Signs of Spring #3 (For Mama)

May 11, 2008

Morning Bouquet-On My Porch (For Mama)

Though she’s been gone for over 22 years, not a day passes that I don’t think of Mama.   Most times it’s the simplest things that trigger my memories—hearing a mockingbird sing or seeing  the dogwood tree illuminated by the morning light.  Or a vase full of the wildflowers I just picked—Mama preferred them over the store bought kind.  Although they never knew her, my children are so like her—dreamy and artistic, yet down to earth and plainspoken.  She would adore them. 

I’ve wondered a lot about where our souls go when we die.   People talk about their loved ones who have passed being in heaven, but really the Bible doesn’t say that we go straight to heaven when we die.  Years ago, on Ariel’s birthday, we were in Duke Gardens when we saw a wood thrush on the path ahead.  It didn’t fly away as we approached, but cocked its head and sang, looking straight at us.  Then it started hopping down the path, looking back at us as though to say Follow me.  So we did.  The wood thrush led us for quite a ways, hopping and looking back, before finally flying up away into the sweet spring morning.  It was a magical moment, made more so by the fact that it was Ariel’s birthday.  I must admit, my first thought was that the soul of my mother was temporarily housed in that wood thrush’s body.  After all, wood thrushes were one of her favorite birds. 

Who can say?  Is it so far-fetched to believe that our souls may reside in many different places before the day comes when our spirits rise to be reunited with our Maker?  And I know, for sure, my Mama would want to spend most of that time flying.  She couldn’t walk for the last five years of her life, so I love to imagine her soaring up far above our earthbound selves or perched singing in her beloved dogwood tree.

So I talk to all the birds I see, just in case, and chase the black cat that skulks about our property stalking birds.   I watch as the birds fly into the firmament, gazing at them until they disappear.  I listen to the wood thrush at dusk, singing its sweet but slightly melancholy song from the highest forest trees.  And I smile, thinking of Mama and relish the thought that she’s singing for us, that’s she’s flying through the clouds.  Waiting for the day that we fly, too.

Happy Mother’s Day to Mama.  And to all Mamas, near and far. 

And to all Mamas in this world…or the next.

Little Signs of Spring #2

May 9, 2008

Maple Seeds

(I called them “whirly birds” when I was small.  Who can resist throwing handfuls of them into the air to watch them twirl their way to the ground?)  Country Dew has a great post on them here.  She called them “dibbas.”

Little Signs of Spring #1

May 8, 2008

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail on Lilacs

(To Tom: I’m so glad I married you twenty-one years ago.  Though the journey has been hard and we are weary, I’m grateful to have taken the journey with you.  And I hold fast to the belief [and I hope you will too] that the best is yet to be.  Happy Anniversary.)

Of “Evil Scissors” and “Nobler Modes of Life”

May 5, 2008

[Are these the “evil scissors” you were looking for?  (For more of this, go here.)]

In my last post, I alluded to the search engine terms shown in my statistics that bring people to my blog.  They are great fun to read and are the main reason I look at my stats.  Lord knows, I sure don’t get any pleasure out of that line graph they show where I often see, in one painful glance, the precipitous plunge of my plummeting blog statistics.

But the search engine terms are quite entertaining—sometimes humorous, sometimes happy, sometimes poetic, and sometimes poignant.    And sometimes, they’re real headscratchers.   For example, this one:  “rat collars; I put them on my rat.”  Now this one gives rise to so many questions.  First, which one of my posts did that phrase correspond to?   Do they really put a collar on their rat?  Why?  If so, do they take their rats for a walk?  Are there little rat leashes too?  If they do take them for a walk, what happens when they meet a cat?  Where do you buy rat collars?  Do rats really have a well-defined neck that a collar would work with?   Really, the questions are endless.

In the same “headscratcher” category, we have “evil scissors,” “snake recipes,” “family tree nuts,” and “babies playing poker.”  “Babies playing poker” certainly brings an immediate image to your mind, doesn’t it?  Can’t you just see the babies, with Budweisers in their hands, cigars dangling from their mouths, poker chips piled high, sitting in diapers around a table?

Then there’s the funny and whimsical—“leaf quizzical,” “money spiders,” “bee collision,” and “quiet stupidity.”  One thing’s for sure—I’ll take “quiet stupidity” over “loud stupidity” any day. 

But my favorites are the poetic ones.  “Nobler modes of life.”  “He treasures her like a poem.”  “The forever kind of love.”   What I like imagining are all the wonderful stories behind these searches.  Who are you, sweet man, who treasures your lover like a poem and loves her, no doubt, with the forever kind of love?  A nobler mode of life you live, to be sure.

But there are two that I get on a regular basis that almost bring me to tears.  One of them is “Mama died I miss her” or “Where are you Mama” or just “mama.”  The other is a single word:  “Alone.”  Or sometimes “Lonely.” 

For any of you that find my blog using that phrase, I hope you have found just a little bit of what you’re looking for.   If you are lonely, I hope that, somehow, reading my blog helps by showing you that you are not alone in feeling lonely.  It’s a universal emotion that very few of us escape.  And I hope that reading the kind comments of my blogging friends makes you feel just a little less alone, as it does me,  by helping you see, as I have, that there is goodness and kindness yet to be found in this sad, tired, old world.  And that I, and you, are not alone.  We are not alone.

The Footprint of a Nut

May 3, 2008

Yep, that’s right…I took this photo because my shoeprint looked like the imprint of a giant peanut. Or at least, I thought so.  And things like that really tickle me.  A lot.   Kind of silly, I reckon.  Perhaps you’re thinking how dull my life must be to be thrilled by a peanut-shaped footprint.  Or maybe you think I’m just a nut.  Or a goober.  That’s O.K., I don’t mind.

I like that even at the age of fifty, I’m easily awed and have a great capacity for wonder because it means I have something wondrous in my life every single day, even if it’s just a footprint that looks like a peanut.

Besides, I really like imagining that very soon, I will look at my blog stats and see that someone has Googled “footprint shaped like a peanut,” and it brought them right to my site.  And they are thrilled to find exactly what they were looking for—the footprint of a goober in the mud.