My Lifelong Love Affair With a Bug

My red-eyed Bug-Beau
Cicadas in N. Kentucky

It started in 1953 in Dayton, Kentucky, a small town on the Ohio River, the year I was born. Of course I don’t remember meeting him, since I was only two months old when he arrived. But I do recall the fossilized shell of one of his nymphs. My mom kept it in a match box in the top corner shelf in the kitchen. I next encountered this bug-love in 1970. The courtship with my future husband coincided with the frenzied flying screeching courtship of this bug. In 1987, 17 years later, we re-kindled our romance when I heard his love song in the woods along Hogan Creek behind our small stone house in Dearborn County Indiana. He also, would meet me each afternoon in late May and early June of that year as I made my way to the parking garage on Eighth Street in Cincinnati after work. I admit that I wasn’t too thrilled the first time he landed on my chest, red bug eyes looking into mine as he mistook me for a female of his kind.

            In 2004 we lived in rural Ohio, nothing but fields of soybeans and corn on all sides. No bug-love there. But as we drove to Owen County Kentucky to stay at our little cottage on Elk Lake each weekend, we were met by the deafening crescendo of their love song vibrating from every tree along the curvy gravel road around the lake. And when my flying Bug Beau hitched a ride on the windshield of our pontoon I laughed aloud.  Our son, recently home from a one-year tour in Iraq with the 101st Airborne, acted like the little boy he once was as he interacted with the flying clumsy bug missiles.

            Now in 2021,  I’ve been blessed with the Brood X 17-Year Cicada love fest once again. I did not scream or bat him away when he alighted on my chest to say hello after his 17 year absence, but looked into his beady red eyes and said “Welcome Back. It’s been a while.”

            You may wonder why I am so fond of a flying locust-like bug. (They are in fact not locust even though it feels and looks like a locust plague of Biblical proportions when you see them 3 deep covering every inch of every tree trunk or bush.)  First of all, I am fascinated by the long life-cycle of this creature. Any living thing that can stay in the ground for 17 years, then emerge with such pizzazz as to disrupt the lives of millions of humans gets my attention. 

But the number one reason I love the 17 year Cicada is their timing. It just so happens that for all my 68 years on this earth, every 17 years when the Cicadas do their thing, and metamorphose from an underground nymph to a flying singing sex crazed teen, I am also experiencing a metamorphose of my own.   Here ‘s the chronology:

  • 1953 – I am born.  
  • 1970 – I get married and have a baby.
  • 1987 – I start my career in IT, landing my first job as a Computer Programmer.
  • 2004 – My son comes home from his deployment in a war-zone, alive and well AND – I start on a new faith journey
  • 2021 – We are in a year of renewal and resurrection.  It feels like we all are emerging with the cicadas, not from a 17-year slumber but a 15-month cocooning in place.  For me this is especially poignant as we have moved back to Kentucky this year, our home state.  I also feel that I am on the cusp of something big, something that has yet to emerge. It may be that I, like my 17-year Bug Beau, will shed my old skin, and don something new. Maybe a pair of wings? I hope I’m ready. 

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