Making Do With Crickets

When I first arrived to Idaho, my attention was hyper-focused but manic.  I was unable to train my eyes on any one thing for very long.  There, a tree whose silhouette makes an unfamiliar shape against the sky.  There, a spider between the rose petals.  There, a young cellist on the street corner, her fingernails bitten and lined with dirt.  Everything was new, and thereby, potentially important.

A month later, the sparkle and glitz has begun to fade.  My mind has already judged what matters (or not) and filled in the background of my mental map accordingly.  My attention, then, is rounding out.  It is growing broad, but vague.  I notice fewer things.  I make more assumptions.  It is the natural course of events.

There are certain things, however, that I was unable to notice until just recently—until I began to see in broad strokes, instead of crystalline relief.  Subtleties.  Undercurrents.  The way the air smells like rain clouds at 4am, even when there are none.  The stage of the river (falling, falling).  The direction from which the wind most often comes.  A few days ago, on a late afternoon walk, I stopped in the middle of the street as the crickets took up their song.  They seemed to begin one by one.  I listened for a while, trying to pinpoint each insect in the grass like a star in the sky, as if I could map that constellation of sound.  A few moments passed and their noise became singular.  A wide, round hum.

It was not hard to hear that hum and think, Cicadas.  As soon as I did, I realized that I’d not heard a single one since leaving Arizona.  This saddened me.  For years, cicada song has meant summer nights; walks through warm silk air; the blinding green of cottonwood leaves, bright even after the sun falls low and fat against the horizon.  I feel a certain affinity for those insects, which lie underground for so long and then, at some signal of angled sun or sweet air, scratch their way into a second world where they unfold wings like panes of glass and sing until they die.  It is one way to live, and perhaps not a bad way.  I keep a small box of cicada wings to remind me.

I am sure that this was the first of many observations, not of what is here, but of what is missing (and of what I miss).  These recognitions come with time, with a settling in of the self and the senses to a new place.  More will meet me down the line.  In the meanwhile, I am learning to make do with crickets.


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