Friday, May 27, 2016
Yesterday on a walk in the woods I spotted a wildflower that stumped even my birding-and-botanizing buddy, but she later looked it up and gave those spiky-globed blooms a name: broadleaf waterleaf, or hydrophyllum macrophyllum, which sounds like poetry or a really effective mantra. In fact, if you put a thousand Hare Krishnas in the treetops chanting hydrophyllum macrophyllum, they might replicate the sound of the cicadas filling our woods.
Some say cicadas sound like distant chainsaws or whining weed-eaters, but they're more otherworldly, like sound effects in a sci-fi film. Walking through our woods, you might think you're in the midst of a massive light-saber fight or the target of a thousand phasers all firing at once.
It's hard to see the cicadas once they take flight because they're too high in the trees, but in the morning we see the holes they make when they emerge from the ground and the husks of skin they leave behind when they molt. Catch a cicada while its wings are hardening and its beady red eyes look like shiny plastic beads.
The lizard that lives on our front porch has been getting fat and sassy lately and we figured out why: my son saw the lizard sitting with a cicada hanging half out of its mouth. They're bursting with protein and fat and I've heard that, roasted, they make a good snack, but I'm choosing to take that on faith instead of putting it to the test. I couldn't put those beady little eyes in my mouth--I'd rather hear them up in the treetops humming hydrophyllum macrophyllum to their hearts' content.