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“Live for today.” Or, at least that’s what I imagined the cicadas said when they first emerged.  Their calls awakened a window to the past by transforming our woods to a tropical rainforest.  The male cicada‘s croaking vibrations whirled from the treetops in a deafening crescendo while the females snapped their legs in reply.

Cicada sounds from the treetops entrance a turtle in Virginia, June 2013.

Cicada sounds from the treetops entrance a turtle in Virginia, June 2013.

I came upon a turtle so entranced by the primordial cacophony, he forgot to hide, even when I stood beside him.  He remained mid-stride, his neck stretched in awe toward the treetops.

When the male calls changed from a croaking roar to a steady buzz, I imagined they said, “I will survive.”  They had lived in darkness eating tree root sap for almost two decades.

Cicadas emerge after seventeen years by digging out from below...

Cicadas emerge after seventeen years by digging out from below…

With only two weeks left to live, they dug through rock-hard dirt into sunlight.  They shed their skins, unfurled their wings, and searched for a mate.  Their drive to procreate sent them into the trees.

I was the mother of grade school kids when they last appeared.  I didn’t stop to hear them.  Instead, I stopped our cocker spaniel from eating them.  I saw the kids off to school, drove to work, made dinner, and never gave them another thought.  Now I hear many messages in their calls.  Mostly, as they begin to die, I hear them ask, “Where will you be in seventeen years when we return?”

It's a long way up...

It’s a long way up…

Lust drives the cicadas into the trees to mate...

Lust drives the cicadas into the trees to mate…

Prince William County Virginia cicada, May 2013

Prince William County Virginia cicada, May 2013

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