The cicadas, still loud, plentiful and annoying, are starting to die. Every day on my deck I find fifty or so lifeless, leg-up bugs that spent 99.9% of their lives underground sucking on tree roots yet made enough noise in their .1% above ground that my head will still be vibrating when they return in 2024.
I found out something interesting about this breed a few days ago. I was out for a walk in my neighborhood when I heard a loud, shrill buzzing ten feet or so ahead of me and saw a cicada flopping around on its back, unable to right itself, sounding like a chainsaw. So I did what I've done a billion times in the last month-I brushed him with my foot so that it could turn over. And that's when I saw that it was missing its head.
If you had asked me what cicadas had in common with chickens, I'd have guessed that they taste relatively the same when deep fried. Or that they make way too much freakin' noise as soon as the sun comes up. Add to the list: they both freak out and live on for an undetermined amount of time when they lose their noggins.
Yesterday, in the middle of the afternoon, I went outside to water some flowers and as soon as I did, I was overcome by a odor of rotting insects--or so I thought--hundreds of them, all piled together somewhere within the range of my nostrils. I had to find where they were and get rid of them.
I wish I had not. My first inkling that something wasn't right arrived when I looked at the foot-long space between the house and the AC unit and did not recall rocks on that part of the ground; and then I saw them moving--tiny, rice-grain size "rocks"--millions of them.
Maggots. Gamboling upon the rotting corpse of a unfortunate opossum, which, by my completely unscientific process of inhalation, had been there for at least a few of the past 90+ degree days.
It was one of the more unpleasant things that I have ever seen. I went back inside and debated what to do. There was no way that I was going to deal with the carcass myself, but should I do something about the maggots? What gets rid of them? I thought about bleach, but thought it better not to introduce that to the freon that might be wafting about the AC unit. Water? If I drown them, where do they go? Do other maggots come to feast on dead ones?
In the end, I chose to do nothing. This morning I decided to call the city, which does not deal with dead animals on private property. Fortunately the association that we live in does. I told the gentleman who took my call to make sure that he warns whoever gets the shortest straw to stuff his nasal passages before venturing over here.
By early this afternoon my morbid curiosity took over and I had to take a quick look to see how much worse it was than yesterday. Turns out I couldn't have been more incorrect; just about all the maggots were gone. It still reeked, of course, but the poor, skinless, late opossum was all by his lonesome.
The demise of the cicadas and the opossum, combined with the fact that every time I watch the news or log on to the Internet it seems like all I read about are people dying in all sorts of strange and imaginative ways, has me thinking that 2007 appears to be the summer of death. I even heard a news report yesterday saying that there have already been a few heat-related deaths in Chicago, which reminds of me of summer 1997, when they were dropping like flies.
(Sorry, I couldn't resist)
Ordinarily I would think this rationalization to be a bit morbid, but I can explain it quite simply: ever since I found out that I am going to be a father at the end of this year, I have become much more aware of mortality--my own and that of every other thing on this planet.
I'm guessing that this is somewhat normal, so I'm not all that spooked by it, though if you should see me hanging out in cemeteries and watching Night Gallery marathons, please feel free to shake me out of it.
I expect it to pass. Should it not, I may have to buy a new wardrobe.