The Day of the Cicada

Living on the Fringe is a series of musings, thoughts and observations by a once city girl recently relocated to a rural-fringe area and opening her eyes to all the similarities and differences between the two life styles published at


Last night, when I arrived home from work, as I got off the car, I was assaulted by a high pitched sound pulled straight from the score of a Hitchcock movie.

The sun had finished setting leaving behind a dim grey afterglow and this sound, a high pitched siren, raising its mass and volume in my ears. I searched for the source of the sound and found it to be in the branches of the three mountainous water oaks that surround our house like a group of schoolyard bullies.

The unknowing might be fooled into believing the trees themselves were writhing motionless and shrieking in pain. The noise pulsing like a soulless mouth-less warning from within their core, menacing from within their branches.

While waiting for my husband and our toddler to come back from the gate, I stood enveloped in the sound. I recognized the screech as cicadas but imagined there must be a horde hiding in the branches, as I was overwhelmed the sheer magnitude of it.

I asked my husband if he knew what was causing them to do that, fearing a storm or some predator that might mean to cause us harm.


"It's just that there are so many!" He said, as he handed me our son so I could snuggle him a hello.

As we walked in, the fatalist in me posed the question: would the cicadas still be here when our son was old enough to know what they are and their place in our world? And from the quantity of sound being emitted I retorted it seemed a safe bet there would be plenty of them for years to come. At least out here on the fringe, and considering their extended life cycles, there should be no danger of them disappearing any time soon.

But then I recalled that I had only heard of them in movies and books while growing up and I had never seen one in real life until the day I wore one as a brooch for half an hour without ever noticing it was there. I had been robbed of knowing their existence. I had never experienced finding their empty husks abandoned in the most unusual places, or sitting on the back porch as they sing their siren song into the night.

The most striking difference I find since moving to the fringe has been realizing all this nature is so close to us here. Nature we didn't have in the city, or at least, I didn't notice. I now feel like much of the city is sterilized for our protection. Not that the city is any cleaner than living on the fringe, just that out here someone isn't trying to protect us from what is outside.

I know, most city people appreciate that protection. But I can't help but feel a little robbed by it. I had never known there was such a thing as a male mosquito, and although huge and lanky, they are harmless and rather amusing to watch. I had never seen spiders as big as your hand and, although I am terrified of them, I find that there is nothing quite as beautiful as an orb weaver suspended on its web.

I now pity the people, who live so protected, having been one not so long ago but already realizing there is nothing wrong with a little "nature" in your life.

I am grateful to not live in a place that is so sterilized for my protection I am robbed of seeing the splendor hidden in nature's details. And although I am still terrified of most of it, there are a lot of wildly beautiful things out here.

I guess the difference now is that I am learning how to "SEE" them.

[Originally published at]