Hello fellow readers,
The sound of the late summer cicadas brings back the memory of the nagging indication it’s time to return to school. The trepidation was more about the nervousness of being in a new class. Once the newness wore of, it wasn’t that bad. There’s much to learn in this garden of life beyond the classroom for those that remain curious.
While overseeing a project designed for Morristown Airport in New Jersey, a cicada sat down beside me on a boulder placed in a garden there. The Little Miss Muffet poem came to mind, though he didn’t frighten me away. Rather, I sat in awe of his big green eyes and translucent wings and asked out loud “are you okay?” Then came curious looks from the landscapers… I wondered if the digging brought the little guy to the surface before he was ready to emerge.
About a year ago you may recall the cicada invasion just south of here. But what sat down beside me was not a Periodical cicada that emerge every 13 or 17 years. He was an Annual cicada also known as Dog-day or North American cicada that emerge in late summer every year. Their lifecycle is similar but shorter; only remaining underground two to five years. Then they surface and molt to become adults with wings. They find their way onto deciduous trees and shrubs to mate. The loud shrill are the males singing to attract the females. Leave it to the boys to make such a ruckus! But it’s the girls that cause damage when cutting slits into branches to lay eggs. The damage is not worrisome though because there are relatively few Annual cicadas, unlike when the swarms of Periodical cicadas emerge. They don’t sting or bite and provide protein for wildlife such as birds even foxes.
The back to school cicada sound draws me back into the garden. A perfect time to weed out the undesirables such as Japanese Stilt Grass (Microstegium vimineum) before it goes to seed that remains viable for several years. It looks like mini bamboo and seems to be taking over the world in shady forest floors and sunny garden spots.
It’s also a perfect time to tweak your garden with end of season perennial finds from your local nursery. For lawn enthusiasts, late August into September is a good time to fill in bald patches, aerate and seed. Nights become cooler and morning dew will return making it easier for seeds to germinate.
Legend has it that when the Annual cicadas first emerge, frost will arrive six weeks later to the day. Plenty of time to get out and garden. Happy Labor Day! Garden dilemmas? Askmarystone@gmail.com
Many of you asked how I made out at the writer’s conference I attended in New York City which felt like back to school. You are so kind… Day, one felt overwhelming being introduced to things I didn’t know I didn’t know. Day two – meeting agents. I about bailed not feeling ready. Exaggerated by what I didn’t know I didn’t know. Other conference goers encouraged, “What do you have to lose?” Good point! No doubt whatever embarrassment or rejection I experienced would soon be forgotten. At least by the agents…It turns out three agents are interested. (Maybe they were just being polite.) Vacillating from sure to insecure seems to be a common human condition…
There was a chalkboard, larger than life, at the end of the hallway titled Vulnerability is Sexy. The signatures and sentiments created a loud art of encouragement. Stepping outside of your comfort zone rocks!