Yo, ladies, check out the size of this noisemaker.

February 23, 2009

I can hear winter approaching.

Yes, it’s still February in New Zealand (the equivalent of August in North America) and it’s 29 degrees and sunny in Napier.

But I know the cold weather is on its way.

The cicadas told me.

According to Wikipedia, “38 species from five genera populate New Zealand.” According to what I’m hearing, all 38 species have taken up residence in my back yard. Wikipedia goes on to explain how male cicadas have “loud noisemakers called tymbals on the side of the abdominal base” (note that they do not make any noise with their mouth parts, which are enclosed in a sheath called a labium).

Cicadas can modulate their singing by humping the tree branch they’re sitting on or, conversely, by simply turning up the bass on their car stereos as they cruise through town. Both methods, apparently, cause the female of the species to lose their inhibitions and spread their wings.

Our yard is a cicada cacophony, at times so loud I can barely hear the lesbians next door playing their Fleetwood Mac CDs. The males are “singing” their squishy little guts out now because, once the temperature turns frigid, so do the females. Also, because, shortly after mating season ends, the adult cicada dies. In other words, they come and go.

So this is indeed “busy time” for the noisy little bastards, made more interesting by the fact our yard is also home to several varieties of praying mantis, a natural predator of the cicada. Which brings a whole new meaning to the term “Bite me” being used as an invitation to foreplay.

Winter is coming because I’m also watching the firewood being delivered to our neighbours. I suspect I may soon have to dig out the Yellow Pages and look up Diminishing Natural Resources. I got off easy last year because our house’s former owner left a stack of wood in the shed and all I had to do was chop it .

Let’s get one thing straight: chopping is not my idea of fun. I do not do wilderness well. The outdoors is why they invented the indoors. My idea of roughing it is a hotel room without a fan in the bathroom. It’s being forced to drink Via Ready Brew.

Chopping wood is also a dangerous enterprise. Any time I swing something heavy and sharp near one of my extremities, it’s pretty much a call to the ambulance service waiting to happen. I hurt my hand chopping wood. Not oh-my-gawd-I-chopped-my-thumb-off hurt. But a painful injury nonetheless. Let’s just say I am no longer ambidextrous with the remote control.

Let’s just say I’m wondering why I’m living in a house heated only by a wood burner, a house where, in the middle of winter, it’s actually warmer outside.

Did they not have a building code when they hammered this place together in 1960? Did they not have building inspectors?

The answer on both counts is yes and the inspection process went something like this:

“Does this house have doors and windows?”

“Yes.”

“Do they close?”

“Yes.”

“Good enough. We’ll be dead before some wimpy Canadian buys it in 2008. Moving on.”

Maybe I should have been a cicada. They spend most of their lives underground where it’s warm and cozy and you hardly ever have to vacuum or do the dishes.

And then I could simply emerge in the glorious heat of the summer, bursting into song like a contestant on Insect Idol, tantalizing the ladies with the sheer magnitude of my tymbals.

I might not live long, but at  least I’d die with a smile on my labium.

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2 Responses to “Yo, ladies, check out the size of this noisemaker.”

  1. megan said

    The cicadas all came out in 2005 around here. I was in grad school then, and carrying on a conversation with a friend or a professor while walking from building to building between classes was next to impossible, the noise was so loud. So loud, in fact, that I could hear them clearly in the basement practice rooms. Incidentally, the cicadas up my way were buzzing an E.

    Just wait until the cicada season is over. Then you’ll be walking on a carpet of cicada carcasses.

  2. Megan said

    I like what she says. Maybe you can burn the carcasses as well to keep warm in the winter. There was snow on my lawn this morning.

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