“Loneliness is the poverty of self. Solitude is the richness of self.” ~ Mary Sarton
Summer on the Texas Gulf Coast is marked by roadside watermelon and tomato stands, backyard cookouts, and bikini tops and flip-flops as the usual dress. The unscheduled school’s-out days might be of stressful obsession over storms entering The Gulf, or perhaps catching up on your growing reading list is more your style. At the very least, you can expect the electric bill will be doubled until September.
Cicadas are how you know summer is here–here to stay for a hot, muggy short while.
Bur Oak Canopy
Home of the Lyric Cicada
The crepuscular early morning hours is what I look forward to most every day, much like any other season. It’s cooler in the hours before the sun rises, when the sauna feel of high humidity is slightly more bearable. The drone buzz of a Superb Dog-Day Cicada kicks off the ruckus, returned by another next door; before long, dozens are fighting for the airwaves. After a long winter’s nap, they emerge from the soil at the base of trees, advance through their life cycle with several molts, and finally begin ‘singing,’ looking for a mate. This morning’s white noise is the back drop of bird songs and frog chorus. I prefer it to the sounds outside in the evening (commuter traffic) or afternoon (lawn crews).
The summer cicada song completes my short stretch of necessary solitude every day.
Quiet Morning Reflection
Others rely on these cyclical creatures as well, as food. Mississippi Kites travel all the way from wintering grounds raise their young on a steady diet of cicadas; they return to nest in our trees every year without fail. I’ve watched cicadas meet their demise with hungry grackles, hawks, crows, even ants. The Cicada Killer–a giant wasp, named for its prey–is a specialist seen riding cicadas mid-air, like a cowboy on a bucking bronc. We are alerted by audible objection of the doomed cicada; it is taken back to the underground den of the wasp, paralyzed but alive, and fed to her young.
As long as the cicadas return, so will so many, many others. This has been the way of nature for millions of years, even as we have turned their wild spaces into our domestic ones.
Mobile Cicada Probes
White Ibis Family
Happy Summer, everybody!
Stay cool and relax a bit every day if you can.