Monday, January 11, 2010

Scary Summer Thoughts on a Cold Winter's Day

All the cold weather here in Crabtown has forced my mind to turn to summer. While trying to recall the more unusual sights and smells of those gorgeous days in June my thoughts clicked-over to the sound and smell of the cicadas. The “17 Year Locusts” is our affectionate name for them. In 2004 they crawled from underground again to invade every garden and playground for several weeks. Thousands of bullet-like holes pierced through the soil making us wonder how many more were dwelling beneath our feet. Beady, red eyes stared at us from every tree, shrub and plant. Their persistent hum gradually became a loud buzzing chorus as they matured, mated and died while their offspring bored back into the soil and plotted a return invasion. They left us crunchy carcasses which clung to everything outdoors including our children and pets. And then there was that pungent odor they left in the air. I attributed it to death and sex.

Too young to remember them in 1953, their visit during the summer of 1970 almost did permanent damage to my emotional state. My summer job at that time was for Chesapeake and Potomac Telephone Company at 5711 York Rd. Everyday at 5 p.m., as I headed west towards home on Northern Parkway, I prayed they would not attack me. My little Ford Maverick had no air conditioning and so I drove with the windows wide open even though I believed that the locusts swarmed around my little car. I just knew they were waiting to get me. One evening while waiting for the red light at the intersection of N. Parkway and Reisterstown Road my nightmare became reality. A locust flew into my car, clipping my face, sending me scrambling and screaming out the car door in a panic. The rush hour traffic had no patience for my dramatics and so I shamefully got back into my car and finished the sweaty drive home with all the windows rolled up. Mercifully the next time our locusts visited in 1987 I was half way around the world in Tahiti. And in 2004 I was finally grown-up enough to tolerate and even enjoy their short presence.

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