By Paula Damon
“In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous.” – Aristotle
People frequently ask me what I write about, to which I reply, “Just about everything.” Next they want to know where I get story topics, and I tell them, “Just about everywhere.”
However, it is seldom I can say story ideas fall from the sky, like this one …
While minding my own business on my way to work the other day, I came upon a hitchhiker. He appeared to be a total freeloader with no belongings – not even a backpack!
I could hardly ignore the sight of him since he had landed smack dab on the hood of my car.
After I arrived at work, I got out of my car and took a closer look. His stocky hard-as-rock torso contrasted by a delicately laced wings and linen-white underbelly threw me at first. Studying him a bit longer, I was hoping he was some sort of rare traveler from an exotic faraway environment who had lost his way, ending up here.
Quite taken by his rough beauty and not sure if he was playing dead or not, I gingerly removed him from the hood and gently laid him on a napkin inside on the passenger seat. He didn’t budge, and I then realized he had indeed expired.
Displaying no signs of decaying, his hard shell back had a Ninja Turtle look as it was artfully decorated with a dark green and black fatigue pattern.
His inch-long oval-shaped wings were transparent and when illuminated casted a spectacular golden glow. His bulging red eyes were set on opposite ends of his face.
Now, what I’m about to tell you may sound more than a bit strange to some and could make others feel a tad squeamish. For five days, this big little bugger rode shotgun with me to and from work. And every so often I’d check on him, first to see if he’s still there and then to admire the intricacy of his features and marvel at his contrasting features and colors.
The only thing I can attribute this bizarre behavior to is my interest in large winged insects, like butterflies, moths and the like. Besides, it’s not very often I see an insect this size with its post-mortem anatomy largely in tact!
When I finally decided to share this find with my husband, I announced, “Look at this,” as I proudly displayed the bug on the wide open palm of my hand. “What do you think it is?”
It only took one glance and he said, “A cicada,” sounding quite unimpressed.
After I looked up cicadas and verified he actually was what my husband said he was, I did a little “background” check and learned the one I found is a member of the periodic cicada family, native to North America. This type can hibernate deep underground for up to 17 years, and then makes sudden unannounced appearances. In other words, he was just a local who didn’t get out much.
While cicadas do not sting or bite, they do have a definite dark side. Foe to farmers, cicadas are capable of doing the collateral damage of grasshoppers by destroying foliage on crops.
I have mixed emotions about my attachment to this little guy. On the one hand, I’m glad his days of destroying plants are over. On the other hand, I’m sad that his stunningly strong and strikingly intricate anatomy will be at rest forever, never again to lift a wing, make a shrill or buzz a call from his vibrating two drum-like timbales.