Sunday, July 21, 2013

counting by cicadas

It is a cicada summer this year. Every night at about 8 or so the quiet woods behind our home are suddenly filled with the distinct sounds of cicadas calling to one another from the trees. It is an unmistakable sound. It's a sound that I have come to associate with those dog days toward the end of the summer, those last halcyon days before school begins again and life returns to a more predictable, responsible pace. I have always loved those days. Every summer there are cicadas, but this year is the end of a 17-year life cycle so there are many more than usual and the deafening clamor coming from our woods are a testament to their numbers.

I remember the last cicada summer. It was the summer of 1996. I spent that summer in St. George, working a little and playing a lot. At end of July just when the cicadas were picking up steam, I met a boy. Once I met him, I thought him to be the funniest, most interesting person I had ever known. I still do. It shouldn't have worked. We were far too young and poor. We had so much school ahead of both of us. We really were still children. But. I only wanted to be with him. So I fell in love with the great love of my life to music of the cicadas. The next summer, when I married him, there weren't so many, but there's always a few in July and they played at our backyard wedding.

While those cicadas were sleeping we have traveled far. In our now 16 years of marriage we have lived in 12 homes, in 5 states and in 2 countries. Between us we earned 4 degrees. We climbed mountains, we rafted rivers, we ran races. We failed, we succeeded, we kept trying. We fought, we made up, we decided we could not do without one another. We had babies of our own, babies who will stay with us only a little longer than a cicada sleeps. And that's the thing we learn from the cicadas. On the surface that 17 years seems so very long, such long time to be sleeping, but now, I can see all the water that has flowed under the bridge during their nap and it doesn't seem like enough time. So much of my life and flown by in these last 17 years. We have grown and changed and come so very far. I can't stop wondering and dreaming about where we will be when the baby cicadas from tonight wake up.
Photography courtesy Erin Dahl Photography