It’s hard to fathom just how many are out there this year. It sounds like hundreds and I just might not be that far off. I’ve been finding small holes in my yard under the pines for weeks and their empty shells litter the landscape. The South has been invaded, the Cicadas are here.
As they sing atop the magnolias, pine and poplar all around the neighborhood and the temperature and humidity rise signifying afternoon storms are on their way I was whisked off to my childhood and simpler times. A neighborhood full of stately old magnolias, azaleas and bring streets one of which still exists today. Although now all but that brick road has been replaced by parking garages and lots in its day there stood a quintessential Southern neighborhood. It bustled with the usually kids on bikes, barking dogs, lawnmowers whirring and the comings and goings of the court house & downtown area. Nestled a between downtown and the court house was my stomping ground. I could see the front of the historic court house from my back yard. Beneath the towering old oaks my friends and I would jump our bikes over their protruding roots practicing for our future careers as were would dreamed of following in Evil Knievel’s footsteps at the tender age of 8.
Most often I remember after a busy morning of spectacular bike jumps and tricks and upon hearing the noon whistle blow my friends and I would retreat to our homes and emerge with whatever gourmet lunch an 8 year old (or our moms) could whip up. It was the 70s mind you, so my preference in those days was white bread, bologna and catsup sandwich, a side of cheese balls and one of my moms aluminum tumblers full of sweet tea or if I was lucky grape cool-aid. Our pallets were obviously very cultured at that age.
We’d sit beneath the leaning Jacaranda tree in my side yard listening to the summer cicadas savoring our lunches all the while boasting of cool jumps and epic tricks. Then We’d plan our adventures for the second half of our busy day.
On hot afternoons when we craved a slurpee or some candy we’d grab my aunt and my wagon and head for the 7-Eleven 7 blocks away picking up pop bottles as we walked. By the time we got there we usually had enough bottles to get our goodies. In those days I was usually barefoot, I only wore shoes to the grocery store and church. By the time we got back the bottom of my feet were pitch black, we called it 7-11 feet.
There were no video games or computers to sit in front of, no cell phones to stare into with social media distractions. It was real, tangible and happening all around us at any given moment. We rode bikes, climbed trees and explored as far our little worlds would allow. All the while knowing that the louder the cicadas sang the shorter our summer was getting. It would soon be back to school with the smell of freshly sharpened pencils new books and warn lunchroom rolls.
I would love to go back for just one day. One day to ride my bike, climb that mulberry tree or ride my wagon down the sidewalk without crashing on the corner, I know I could make that turn this time.
Even then, as we walked through the neighborhood treasure hunting for pop bottles we could hear the cicadas singing in the trees. The sweet smell of magnolia and honey suckle floating on that warm summer breeze they were there, buzzing and zipping from tree to tree.
Today my bicycle has been hanging in the garage for a few years now collecting dust and they just opened up a new convenience store/gas station a few blocks from my house. But alas they don’t have any penny candy or a slurpee machine either. What I wouldn’t do for a banana slurpee or a banana flip right now.
I may just go get my bike down, clean it up and take it for a spin down the green way today and try to get a glimpse back into those days of cool jumps and fantastic tricks. Then, sit in the back yard under the trees and have lunch with my husband while the cicadas serenade us .