Katydid Time.

katydidsThe lightning bugs are long gone. They started to disappear when the days first began to get shorter, when you didn’t even notice that each day the sun set a few minutes earlier than the day before. You don’t remember when you last stepped out the back door and saw an isolated flash by that cluster of honeysuckle. Now it’s the crickets. When you turn out the lights and go to bed you can hear them trilling, a low hum mostly muted by the walls. They’ve been going all summer but now they’re louder. They only go silent for a moment when you pass by. If you stop and wait they start up again.

The evenings are cooler. The temperature has dipped enough that when you step out the patio is sharp against your bare feet. The crickets are still going. On cloudy days you even hear them at noon when you go out for a walk. The rain doesn’t stop them.

In darkness you climb the hill. When you look up the trees are still inkblots on the blue backdrop of night but the crunch of freshly dried leaves tells you that won’t last long. This is the country. It’s supposed to be quiet, but the noise of katydids is overwhelming. Close your eyes. You can see them chant. It’s like static, but regular, rhythmic, a pulse that lights up just inside your eyes. Remember when you were thirteen, the intensity, the urgency you felt? Compress that into days. That’s what it is for them. They have one thing to do but so little time. So little time. This night may be all they have.

You come down the hill. Your eyes are fuzzy. You stumble over rocks, over roots, you walk slowly out of respect for your own brittle bones. Where you once flew you now step carefully. That feeling of urgency has passed.

You understand why this time of year is called fall.

14 Comments

  1. kdcol

    I had to look up katydids. I’ve seen a katydid before but I had no idea what it was or what it was called. I enjoyed the read and learning something new today.

    http://www.fcps.edu/islandcreekes/ecology/true_katydid.htm

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Because I grew up in an area with katydids I’m amazed that you had to look them up, but then I remember that they’re not everywhere. That link is really interesting, and I also found this video where you can hear them. The video doesn’t begin to do justice to how loud they can get, though. It really can be deafening.

      Reply
  2. Chuck Baudelaire

    That’s lovely. 🙂

    Reply
  3. Margot

    I approve. Is there any kind of writing you can’t do?!

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Novels. Even if I had the time I doubt I could write a novel, and I’m not sure I’d want to. I don’t have anything against novels–there are several I love–but I appreciate the approval for my short work.

      Reply
  4. Spoken Like A True Nut

    Ever since I learned that katydids have taste receptors in their feet, I’ve always figured they make so much noise because they’re constantly complaining about how disgusting everything they walk on is.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      That’s hilarious–I had no idea they had taste receptors in their feet. And thinking that’s what they’re saying is so much better than the reality, which is millions of them screaming “I’M HORNY!”

      Reply
  5. Gina W.

    Hi Christopher– I have nothing to add to this lovely post. I’ve lost my writing mojo as of late but I did want to let you know that I enjoy visiting your blog even if I can’t think of anything to add to it.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Hopefully this’ll help bring your mojo back. And it’s best to think of it as a well. The water level has just dipped kind of low right now. You just need to find something to bring it back up. I find reading something like this helps, but that’s just me.

      Reply
  6. Ann Koplow

    Beautifully written. I like all the sounds this post makes as I hear it in my head.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Wonderful! I’d hoped to capture the sounds of this time of year, and to convey the idea that the country isn’t really quieter than the city–the sounds are just different.

      Reply
  7. Pointless Boob

    Sadly, one katydid landed on my deck a couple of weeks ago, and my dog Maggie attacked it. (She’s a terror … errr terrior.) The katydid lost a leg in the scrimmage, but finally flew away. I don’t think it was very bright. Maggie is less than a foot tall and the Katydid only needed to fly, like, up. just up. and it kept flying horizontally across the deck. Poor dumb katydid.

    I hope it’s okay. It lost one of it’s big back legs. I don’t know if katydids have any “veterans of foreign wars” groups to aid their wounded after a battle but I hope they do.

    🙁

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Even compared to other insects katydids don’t seem all that bright and like those camel crickets they lose their back legs at even the slightest touch. That’s one of those design flaws evolution hasn’t taken care of probably because they live fast and don’t really need those back legs all that much.
      Good for Maggie, though, protecting you from such vicious creatures. Sounds like she’s one of those wonderful Terriers.

      Reply
  8. Sandra

    Brilliant! ~standing up from my seat to clap~ Seriously.

    Reply

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