The Rise and Fall of the Cicada

In Celebration of Seasons: The Rise and Fall of the Cicada

Last week was warmer. The ceiling fan and the wide open window coaxed the outside into the bedroom. Good sleep and fresh air go together. It’s colder tonight, so the window is opened only slightly. Just enough to allow the wisp of a cool breeze.     

With the fresh air also come night noises like the rhythmic, hypnotic whir of Cicadas.  Colder nights mark the early seasonal shift from fall to winter and the slow demise of the rasping symphony.  The transition is almost imperceptibly slow.  Nevertheless, the once deafening din of summer’s countless Cicadas diminishes to fall’s distinguishable few.  And then, following the first hard freeze, there are none.

These mountains abound with predictably sequenced cycles: autumn’s leaves evolve from green to red and orange to brown before carpeting the forest floor; fallen hardwoods are cut and split and stacked and fed to the woodstove; winter’s familiar milestones of first frost, first snow, last snow, last freeze; next comes the hint of first green on the tips of trees on the lower slopes as the sun returns to its higher arc in spring; then the well-ordered summer blossoms of Mountain Laurel, Rhododendron and Flame Azalea; and finally, the return of the Cicadas and their ephemeral chorus.  It’s a periodic and continuous circle.

The ebb and flow of annual patterns remind us that change is both inevitable and constant. Seasonal flux can either be reassuring or unsettling (depending on the size of your wood pile), provoking either welcomed anticipation or tempered angst.  Every year provides a fresh revelation of new life and old death and the repeated promise of resurrection.

On the coldest, grayest days of winter I fantasize about life on a tropical island.  Endless days of warm sun, clear skies, white sand and steady tides. I think that would be nice…perhaps for a few weeks.  Then the monotony of seasonless life would crash the beach party. I know that I would eventually miss the distinctly opposing seasons that punctuate the mountain calendar.  The recurring contrasts of warm and cold, green and brown, life and death, and the rise and fall of the Cicada.