Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Po-tay-toh, Po-tot-oh ~ Ci-kay-dah, Ci-ka-dah

However it is pronounced; this bug rocks my summertime!

It seems as though my life has been blessedly marked (as many others have) by particular annual natural events which have left their indelible mental check marks. For instance, ever since I was a kid I have been fascinated by insects...all of them, and what their delicate life-cycles mean in the flow of life here on earth. The late May days in northern Wisconsin when the mayflies would emerge nearly simultaneously to spend their precious few hours to a few days in constant flight and reproduction. The dragonflys that would attach their larvae to lake-side pier posts, until one day when the time was right, finally bursting through into the world to unfurl their lacy wings, leaving behind a parchment thin crispy carapace. The appearance of a multitude of caterpillars that would some day "worm" their way into their more beautiful and universally accepted and celebrated flying works of art. The "June bugs" with their claw-like hooked legs flying sorties past my head, whirring and floating until they "grab" something (or someone) on which to rest their bulbous bodies.  Whether we all admit it, insects with their various arrivals and departures have imprinted their existence on each of our personal hourglasses marking the passage of time. 

For me...summer officially starts when the cicada sings. ZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz!

Over the long 4th of July weekend, I finally heard my own familiar personal harbinger of heat; the Cidaca.  (in Latin meaning "buzzer") Interestingly, when I hear this wonderful ringing sound I immediately think of the old 1937 George and Ira Gershwin standard; "Let's call the whole thing off." Why you might ask, would I think of that song?  Well, it's simple if you reside inside of my head and have forever equated that song and the multitude of ways which I have heard the name of this marvelous bug pronounced.  Tibicen linnei is its Latin name, but then who knows that little factoid?  In some circles this super-sized fly has been called a, jar fly, dry fly, heat bugs, and (a definite misnomer) locusts and did you know that there are over 2500 species of this amazing insect?  Well, there's a whole lot that is available on the vast Internet, so I will not regale you with all that I personally know other than a few of the coolest things which you may list off and impress your friends with: HERE

I have been fortunate to actually have a few of these bizarre creatures resting in the palm of my hand from time to time, and find that I can stare at them for long periods just appreciating their intricate design.  I have seen the House sparrows in my yard chasing them through the branches, and even took a photo of a tiny Black-capped chickadee with one pinned to the dirt in its claws, as it pecked it apart for a meal...that was totally spectacular.  I even recall one car ride to Florida in the middle of the summer of 1980, stepping from my vehicle for a gasoline fill-up, unable to completely avoid crunching them underfoot due to a sudden massive hatch crawling on the tarmac. 

Each of these impressionable memories are possible because I took the time to make a mental note to be amazed with the natural world.  What are YOUR personal markers of the passage of time, and do any of them involve bugs?  If you answer no, then I suggest you were not paying attention...and there's still plenty of time to notice and record some.  Just listen and smile as you feel the warmth of a brand new summer dawning; one bug at a time.

Emergence of a Cicada