Recently, someone asked the purpose of cicadas. My reply was that they are the soundtrack of summer.
It was cicadas we listened to while sitting in the shade of my friend Kristi's carport. Fat beefsteak tomatoes plucked sun warm and sweet from her mother's garden were lunch, juice running down our arms to drip from tanned elbows. A drink of water and a rinse from the garden hose and we were back to lazing away the hottest part of the day.
It was the cicadas whose song followed us from yard to yard in July and August when the asphalt of the street finally became too hot for our bare feet, so calloused from going shoeless all summer, and we had to navigate the neighborhood from patch of grass to patch of grass, the occasional honeybee sting no more a distraction than a mosquito bite.
It was cicadas providing the background music as we sat under the pine trees in my front yard or the great oak tree in Gerri's yard. We planned our weddings, we named our children (Olivia, Francesca, and perhaps as a wish against the summer heat - December).
It was on one of those lazy afternoons, sprawled out on my mother's front porch that I declared in tones of horror and disbelief that "in the year 2000, I'll be forty years old!" I can still hear the echo of my 12 year old voice, scarcely able to imagine the realities of forty.
Now, that is 10 years in the past. It will soon be 2011 (sounds like science fiction, Jason says).
But the cicadas are still singing their unique song. I hear them in the mornings when I am on my walk, the sudden shrill chittering song rising to a buzz, then abruptly dropping off as the next one begins the song.
All I need do is close my eyes and I'm 12 again, laying in the prickly grass of the front yard, eyes closed, listening, thinking, dreaming.