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 off, 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 we placed in a garden. The Little Miss Muffet poem came to mind, though he didn’t frighten me away. Instead, 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.
You may recall the cicada invasion just south of here about a year ago. But what sat beside me was not a Periodical cicada that emerges every 13 or 17 years. The little guy was an Annual cicada, also known as Dog-day or North American cicada, that emerges in late summer every year. Their lifecycle is similar but shorter, only remaining underground for 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 the girls cause damage when cutting slits into branches to lay eggs. The damage is not problematic, 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 and foxes.
The back-to-school cicada sound draws me back into the garden. It’s 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 that seems to be taking over the world in shady forest floors and sunny garden spots.
It’s also an ideal 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
A Side note:
Many of you asked how I made out at the writer’s conference I attended in New York City, which felt like going 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 being polite.) Vacillating from sure to insecure seems to be a common human condition.
A chalkboard, larger than life, was 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!
Tune into Episode 3 featuring Cicadas Sing Back to School:
September 4, 2022 Update – It’s hard to imagine it’s been five years since the story. And, the book is moving forward thanks to you, kind readers. I’ll keep you posted!