The song of the cicada is the sound of summer - a high pitched squawking drumming sound that gets into your head and stays there. Sometimes you go outside to their voice and then they all stop, together, and you wonder why. Was it you? Why would they stop this time and not the last time that you opened that same door? It's a mystery. A mystery of Cicadadom.
Remember as kids how exciting it was to find their cast off shell exoskeletons still clinging tenaciously to the tree truck with their sharp little claws and how you would fasten them into your hair or onto the front of your jumper to frighten some kid littler than you? Remember finding one in the process of moulting and trapping it in an icecream container to watch the process to its end, watching the crumpled wings straighten and dry and harden? Remember looking through their gossamer wings? Remember discovering one newly emerged from its hole underground and watching it making the long journey to the heights of a suitable tree where it would hook its strong legs under the bark and stay perched awaiting the splitting of its skin and its final metamorphosis ?
Catching cicadas during summer is practically a right of passage through childhood.
So where are they? As I go outside my door today into the heat of a Melbourne summer I hear...well apart from the traffic...nothing. Later the crickets will sing, but their song is not the same. Not at all.
How can Jemimah go through childhood if she never catches a cicada? It's just not Australian. It's just not on.
I shall need to find one.
What about where you live? If we come and visit you will we hear the cicadas sing? We're free this weekend. Can we borrow one of your icecream containers, or do we need to bring our own?