In the Chicago area an extraordinary phenomenon
takes place every 17 years. I remember, as a child growing up in
Michigan, my mother telling me of "locusts" invading her home town
in the Chicago suburbs. They literally had to clean up the carcasses
with snow shovels. This sounded fantastical to me. Later, we moved
there and in 1973 I was finally able to witness the event. I missed 1990 but
made a deliberate effort to see this year's show in May-June 2007.
These cicadas emerge from the ground, climb, and shed
their shells. After they dry they are able to fly, make a deafening
amount of noise, and mate. Eggs are laid along grooves in small tree
branches. The adults die and the eggs hatch. The infant cicadas drop
to the ground, burrow down, and live subterranean lives for the next 17
years! It's miraculous and most people find it very annoying. I find
it fascinating. I'm not a particular lover of insects
(spiders—yikes!) but I find
these big harmless, lumbering bugs almost loveable. They make me
pause and ponder: "What will I be like when these strange creatures
emerge next time? Will I be around to see them again?"
Certainly! See you in 2024!