I grew up in Baltimore, a suburban enough area to have lots of trees. I was there for the 1970 emergence of the cicada brood. I had moved away but was able to go visit for a few days during the 1987 emergence. I missed the 2004 one; I had small children and was living in New England, too far north I guess for any broods of cicadas to thrive. It looks like I will miss this year’s emergence as well. My father, who still lives in Baltimore, tells me they have started to come out as of a few days ago.
17 year cicadas are an amazing phenomenon. They sweep you up in the awareness of how small things can be mighty if there are enough of them! It’s amazing to witness something that really doesn’t care about human presence one way or another. They do us no harm, they simply overwhelm their part the world with their sheer numbers. They take care of the reproductive part of their life cycle, and then they die, and that’s it until the next time.
I know this drawing isn’t accurate. For one thing, I gave it too many legs. I was not referring to any pictures but the ones in my dreams and my memories. It felt good to sit with them for a time, and remember where I was 17 years ago, and 17 years before that, and then again another 17 years.