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Brood 2 of the 17-year magicicadas are emerging this spring in my part of the world. I hear them singing every time I go outside, and sometimes, they are loud enough and close enough to drown out even the electronic buzzes inside our house.


Monica Sleap and her sisters discovered a cicada while geocaching.

In the spring of 1996, my daughter Elizabeth was just finishing her first year in high school when they came. I did not imagine that I would not have her in 2013, that she would die later that same year that we heard the cicadas, nearly 17 years ago now.

In 1979 when the cicadas came, we had two sons already but no daughter yet. The first year I had heard the cicadas from this brood in my lifetime, 1962, was the year before I met my husband. This morning my vision won’t extend to 2030, when my oldest grandchild will be 28.

I suppose that in this meander in my mind, I am measuring my life in cicadas, in 17-year increments. I am mourning the brevity and I hesitate to measure the longevity. This is my fourth cicada hearing, and I wish my daughter had had more than one.

For a look at an earlier writing about the space between cicadas, see https://fartheralongbook.com/2012/09/03/the-space-between-cicadas/

To hear the sound of cicadas, go to http://www.cicadamania.com/audio/princeton2004.mp3