The Cicadas are Dying

The cicadas are dying. It’s just what they do every year about this time. Throughout July they’re very loud–so loud and so constant, you barely hear them. But around the beginning of August, they start dropping out of the trees. That’s when you become aware of them. Instead of a continual, deafening, whirring chorus, fewer of the insects sing, and it’s a softer, less consistent song. Sometimes they even fall silent.

And you realize they’ve been singing all along and you didn’t really notice it.

While walking my puppy (who has to be walked at least once every hour), I came across a dying one today. He was still struggling to fly. I thought about how many times I’ve walked my pup this summer (innumerable–I think I mentioned how often he has to be walked) and realized I only noticed the cicadas a handful of times. But I heard their rattling chatter every time I went outside. Loud as it was, it faded into the background, became part of what I expected.

Soon I’ll walk outside and not hear them and I’ll notice it. The air will grow chillier, the sound of children confined to schoolyards in the day. Darkness will fall earlier and summer will end.

My puppy wanted to play with the cicada we found flopping ungracefully on the driveway, but I pulled him away. I was glad I did because in the next instant the cicada got his feet under him and summoned enough strength to whir back up into the trees. I’ll be able to hear him sing again. For a little while longer.

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