Saturday, June 19, 2021

In the Year of Brood X, 2021


Cicada on my cherry tree, June 19, 2021

I have been blogging for seventeen years. My first "official" blog post was May 14, 2004 - there had been another post a few days earlier that just said "Coming soon - Another Monkey with a blog!", but I deleted that after I officially started my blog. 2004 was a Brood X year, another year in which the Brood X cicadas emerge during the final stages of their seventeen-year cycle, and they were the subject of my twenty-fifth blog post on June 9, 2004. The cicada eggs that were laid that year grew up to be the cicadas of this year.

(I was in college during the previous Brood X cycle in 1987, and spent that summer at the TV faceplate factory in Pittston where my father worked. I remember cicadas thudding off the windshield of our car as we made the commute to work. I was two years old during the Brood X emergence before that one, and don't have any memories of it.)

I have been hearing cicadas for the past few weeks around Nanticoke, but had only seen a single one (flying near the top of one of my cherry trees) up until yesterday. The cicadas seem to be concentrated in the area alongside Route 29 on the east side of town, although there are also some along Middle Road to the south and possibly some along the river flats to the north. In large numbers they emit a sound that sounds exactly like one of the dozen or so sound effects that were used for phasers in the original TV series of Star Trek. Individually they sound like an electric drill being used in short bursts, to the point that many people assume that this is what they are hearing: some rude and thoughtless neighbor using power tools at all hours of the day and night, over and over.

Yesterday I went for a ride to the Hanover Mall to get some specialized pet food for our fifteen year old cat Babusz, who recently had an incident of odd behavior - she suddenly abandoned her usual hangout spots and went into hiding, choosing to isolate herself in odd areas around the house and refusing to accompany my mom to the bathroom, as was her custom. She did this for about two weeks, and then gradually began to emerge again, spending some of the day in her old usual spot on a rocker near where I work, racing my mom to the bathroom some (but not all) of the time. But since she emerged she has been losing weight. We'll get her to the vet soon, but having lost four cats in the last twelve months I fear the worst. At my sister's recommendation we are trying a new food/treat, Churu by Inaba. She has gradually taken to it. Our grocery store doesn't carry it, by Village Pet Supplies in the Hanover Mall does.

Babusz, July 12, 2020

The Hanover Mall is just the other side of Route 29. When I got there, I stepped out of the car and into the cicada chorus, providing a science fiction-y background to the mundane scenes of people getting out of their cars or loading purchases into their cars. I saw another cicada in the air as I parked the car.

Reports are that cicadas are absent from many areas around Northeastern Pennsylvania where they had been seen seventeen years ago. Development has disrupted and destroyed many of the underground cicada sites, eliminating whole breeding populations. NEPA is at the edge of the Brood X emergence territory, so things can be a bit more iffy here as to whether cicadas will actually show up anywhere. 

Today I went to a poetry reading, the first event I have gone to since February 22, 2020. I stepped out of the house with my Chromebook in its makeshift carrying case and my old-and-getting-older Nikon Coolpix P520. On my way to the car I heard the familiar buzz-flap of cicada wings, and watched a cicada alight on the cherry tree next to me. (My cherry trees produced their first decent crop of fruit in several years, though the cherries just ripened earlier this week and the birds have already eaten everything I didn't pick.) I carefully dropped the Chromebook, broke out the camera, and coaxed out two decent photos: 

I don't know how much longer the cicadas will be around, singing their song. When they are gone, we will not see Brood X again until 2038. If I live that long, I will be seventy years old. Will I still be blogging then?

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