The Cicada in My Yard
by Oliver Carlos
One afternoon, while I was washing my car in our yard, there was a very loud and weird sound. It’s like a siren that is used to alert people to go to bomb shelters you see in old war movies. The sound is quite deafening maybe because the source was near me. I stopped washing my car and tried to look for the source of the sound. Lo and behold, I saw what I’m looking for on the palm tree near me, it was a cicada after all! It’s a small insect the size of my thumb. What a wonder to hear and see such a loud noise coming from such a small source!
The cicada belongs to a superfamily of insects which includes the true bugs and the grasshoppers. There are around 3,000 different species of cicadas around the world. I just don’t know the name of the species I saw in my yard.
When I was a little boy, I used to hear lots of cicadas in the UPLB Forestry neighborhood. My grandparents had a house in that place, and I was often there playing with my cousins who lived with them. I observe that the cicadas only make their sound at dusk. They are silent the whole day and just come alive at around 4 PM till sunset. By the way, darkness comes early at Forestry because of all the large trees around. That was in the 1970s.
Recently, in one of my joyrides with my parents, we went to the site of the old ancestral house in Forestry. We also went to the Pook ni Maria Makiling, it’s an old resort in Jamboree. On our way home, my Mommy was quick to state a great observation. She said that she couldn’t hear any cicada sound anymore in the 2 places we visited. It was already getting dark and indeed there were no noisy siren sound. My Mom, who’s a scientist and an environmentalist explained that too much human activities in the past decades must have driven the cicadas deeper into the forest.
I heard a similar story when I was a BS Human Ecology student. In the 1800s, the monarch butterfly in Europe got extinct because of the Industrial Revolution. In a way, cicadas are proof of life. It’s a measure of how healthy the ecosystem is. If one could hear cicadas, one should be glad because it’s a sign that he is in an ecofriendly environment. No cicada sound means otherwise. Cicadas live in surroundings which are safe and healthy for them.
In the Bible, the chirping sound is also mentioned as a proof of life. It is one of the things old people can still recognize in their advanced years. The description of aged people can be found in Ecclesiastes 12. Verse 4 specifically talks about the sense of hearing:
“Your ears will be deaf to the noise in the streets. You will barely hear singing.
The sound of the millstone grinding your grain will seem very quiet. But you’ll wake up when a bird first starts singing!” (Ecclesiastes 12:4, ICB)
According to many, the sense of hearing is the last of the 5 senses a dying person would have. Relatives of someone on deathbed would whisper their goodbyes on the ear of their loved one when almost all else of his body parts have failed. It is said that even comatose people can hear sounds around them.
So each day you wake up and hear the chirping of birds, rejoice! Be glad when you can hear insects like cicadas in the afternoons. It’s a sign that you are still alive and are here on earth to enjoy the day. Praise God for the new day he has given you. A radio program has a motto, “Every gising is a blessing!” (Every waking up in the morning is a blessing!). That is very true. Cherish the moment, express your appreciation to God.