The cicadas have landed. This is the 17-year cycle of cicadas. The Brood, they’re called. Tell me that doesn’t make you think of  horror movies.

I pictured Hitchcock’s “Birds.” I pictured “Damnation Alley:” hoards of fat, flesh-eating roach-like beetles spilling from walls, abandoned cars, closets, refrigerators, to leave only skeletons behind.

So, like good preppers preparing for the apocalypse, my spouse and I screened in the porch. We added a lock to a screen door, as if the cicadas would suddenly grow sentient and insistent. I had heard that there would be 200 cicadas for every 3 square yards, that the sound of the lawn mower would call them in: clouds of cicadas swirling around your head, latching on to your flesh with their little hooked claws…

The rains stopped. The sun warmed the earth. I waited. I watched. This is what emerged:

“17 year brood cicada emerging, looking like a rock star.”                                                            Photo credit: Danielle Amman Young

And, as it turns out, these monsters are kinda cute. They fly around making music. They land on your napkin and fall asleep. They don’t eat your flesh. They don’t even eat your plants. They’re just hanging out for a few weeks, buzzing around. Checking out the bright  lights big city. Swiping right, Tinder-style. Living large. Living their lives. Just trying not to get eaten.

It makes me think.

Maybe my fear of the cicadas (completely unfounded, and–to be honest–pretty underwhelming, as it turns out) like so many things we’re afraid of in life–just listen to the news, read the comments, watch your Facebook feed for all the stories that people tell you about what might happen, what could happen–like when the cicadas come …or, maybe, when we’re confronted with new ideas, or new people, or new ways of being and loving and existing with one another in the world.

Who, exactly, is the monster? And what, exactly, are we  so afraid of?



Growing Season

I don’t mean to say there hasn’t been some partying in the back over the past year. And by “partying” I mean drywalling ceilings (good gracious that’s the worst), painting cabinets, running electrical, refinishing reclaimed hardwood floors (and by “reclaimed” I mean any wood from any decade, dumpster, or Re-Store trash bin, and with any finish, blemish, or unidentifiable stain… as long as it was $Free.95), …BUT doing all of these things with a fancy can of blue-ribbon somewhere near by. And I don’t mean to say that the garden hasn’t suffered maybe a little…though don’t tell that to the roaming bands of neighborhood cats who seem to love the giant garden/litter boxes in our front yard…

But it’s been a tough year. Maybe the toughest. I used to have two sons and two daughters–and maybe this isn’t the right way to say what I mean exactly–but now I have one son and three daughters. And if you’ve been paying any kind of attention to the world right now, you might understand the kind of trauma my oldest daughter (who is transgender if you didn’t get that) has been going through. My other children, too, have suffered with their own hurts, their own crises–some of it a very traumatic family history rearing its head and–if I’m honest-which this past year has forced upon me: the truth of my own failings twisting and turning inside my chest like a barbed wire wrapped around my heart…well then maybe a lot of the pain my kids have been buckling beneath has been because of my own failings, my own painful and necessary growth as a human who didn’t understand, yet, what it meant to be the kind of mother my children needed.

And I’m pretty sure if I was a better blogger, I’d make some sort of connection to gardening here–to the way you plant a seed in unforgiving ground and then–by some miraculous algebra of sun and rain–a tender green shoot bursts its way up into the world, against all odds really.

But the thing is, and maybe this is the real truth: Being a parent is, in a way, like being a gardener, except the growing season never ends, the harvest is always and never here, and you are always waiting for the sun, always listening to the robins call for rain, always watching for tell-tale signs of damage (a darkening at the edges, a brittleness, a limb bending beneath the weight of the heavy sky) so that maybe, this time, you can head it off. Maybe, this time, you can make it better. Because  once you give life to something that didn’t exist before you, when that tender growth emerges beneath your hand and you watch it grow and you nurture it in the best way you know how, and you learn, sometimes painfully, what you should’ve done even though you’ll never get the chance to make it right–not in exactly the same way ever again–well, here’s what you might learn:

When you give life to something, or someone, you are bound to them. Forever. They are  part of you. They are you. And so, this is the thing: you have to grow together.

It’s been a long growing season for me. For us. But it’s time, maybe, to till the ground and start again.