“For me this is a time to feel the weight of change. This season I want a friend to be with, someone who will not be shocked if I sometimes want to wail like the cicadas.” Gunilla Norris, author of “Embracing the Seasons”
Two weeks into fall and the weather changed. After a long drought with cracks in the ground looking like a road map and the grass crunching like potato chips, the rains came on three occasions. It was more than welcomed.
Rain brought a bit of coolness in the night air; the cicadas with their night song vanished as fast as the coolness came. As I would feed the rabbits, the cicadas would make their incredible humming sound. The sound is made by membranes, similar to the human ear, attached to the cicadas’ abdomen. The membranes vibrate, making a drone sound with increasing intensity.
There are varying types of cicadas; some appear every 17 or 13 years, or annually. I think ours were the annual kind. The male cicadas can be up to 2 inches long, with a green iridescent color and big bug eyes. Harry, the cat, and I both find the cicadas fascinating. Finding one on the ground, Harry will pounce at the bug, causing the fellow to create his buzzing sound. The cicada will twirl around on its back like a wind-up toy. A few expired cicadas have been left as gifts on our doormat.
Cicadas are not locusts and do not cause damage like locusts. Locusts are a type of grasshopper. The last U.S. devastating locust swarm was in 1877 in the western states. The nymph stage of the cicada may drink juices from the roots of perennial plants, but a cicada is not generally considered a nuisance unless one finds the sound’s volume disturbing. Personally, I like the night sounds cicadas make.
Another evening, while trying to collect the cats for the night, I came up on a very large possum, or opossum as no one around here calls them. In fact, I backed up a bit to make sure I was seeing what I thought I was seeing. Its skinny little tail alone was at least 2 feet long. The possum’s eyesight is poor so it nosed around across the grass under the bird feeders that haven’t been filled since spring. Then it continued slowly, moving its way into the woods.
According to The Humane Society of the United States’ website, possums are not near the nuisances they are made out to be. They are not aggressive and do not tear things up. They are good at cleaning up the messes of other foraging creatures as well as discarded organic matter. They don’t kill anything, and their hissing is more fright than bite. Their main defense is playing “possum.” They pretend they are lifeless.
We’re starting to see flocks of black-bellied whistling ducks fly over. The visiting Canada geese come and go. Some weeks there may be 40 and another maybe six or eight at the lake’s edge. I heard them honking one dark night as they took flight.
Down the gravel road there’s a scraggly old tree where vultures and eagles rest. Our domestic Pekin ducks have a new friend, a lone bufflehead duck. When I come with feed, it takes off across the water like a motorboat.