Pied Beauty

Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1889)

Glory be to God for dappled things—
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches' wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced—fold, fallow, and plough;
And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:

Praise him.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Sounds of Summer

The song of the cicada is the constant backdrop to our lives in the summer.  After a while, you don't really even notice the drone that rises, then falls, throughout the day and early evening.  Cicadas are native to temperate and tropical areas, and ours really kick it into high gear in July, August and September.  They shed their old skins as they molt, leaving behind a startling reminder of how big they really are.

Empty shell, discarded by occupant.

When I was growing up, we referred to them (incorrectly) as locusts, and it took me a long time to learn to call them cicadas, but cicadas they are.  These big insects have life spans that range from 2 to 5 years, although some periodic cicadas live for up to 17 years!  Although they do feed on plants, they're not really considered pests, unless you happen to place the empty shell on your sister.

I remember as a young adult attending a meeting in Leesburg, Virginia in August.  They have cicadas there too.  Our group took a walk around a little nature trail one evening, much to the shock and horror of one of our European companions.  He couldn't figure out what that terrible noise was, and why we southerners couldn't hear it.  It took him a good 10 minutes to explain to us what he was hearing before we figured it out.  Only cicadas!  Not dangerous!  I don't think he believed us, though.

Here's a link to Soundbible's Cicada clip, so you can hear it for yourself.


  1. I remember a vacation. I have no idea where we were, but I remember the cicada were out. They come out in the mountains here, but so infrequently (they are funny that way) I don't notice.

  2. They're part of the background noise for us - so that we don't notice them much when we do hear them but we'd be certain to notice if they weren't there.