When locusts are a good thing

“…when morning came, the east wind had brought the locusts.” Exodus 10:13

There I was this morning, in my gown, trying to sneak out into the yard and retrieve today’s paper from the foot of the pine tree without attracting the attention of the neighbors. As I bent over, my head close to the tree, I saw it, staring back at me from it’s perch there on the bark. It like to have scared me to death.

That is, until I realized what it was.

It was not really a locust so much as a cicada. And it was not really so much the creature its ownself as its hollow little shell clinging to the pine bark. Its back was split open where it had emerged an opalescent adult and flown away to serenade us through these last sultry weeks of summer. All that was left was the hollow shell, abandoned, signifying the end of a long cycle of life underground, two to five years for the dog-day cicada and thirteen to seventeen years for the aptly-named periodical cicada. More important, however, this small, brown hull represents not only the end of one incarnation, but also the beginning of a another.

Now I’m not going to yammer on about rebirth, resurrection, butterflies, and all that. I’m talking about Fall. Cooler climes. A chill in the air. Sweater weather. An end to this breath-of-Satan summer that’s been dragging us down. You see, this parched bug husk means that the first frost is only a mere six weeks away. Six weeks, y’all. Mid-October.

With the help of God and Trane, maybe we can last. Until then, I’m going to find all of the shells I can, decorate my shirt and maybe even my hair with them, and do the happy dance right out in my front yard, gown and all.

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P.S. The harmless cicada is commonly mistaken for its biblically destructive brethren, the locust. Locusts remind me of those horrible, nasty big old black and red “lubber” grasshoppers that plague South Alabama like, well, locusts. GAWD, are they scary!

Well, when I was in my early twenties, I was living in the old house where Mama and Baw had their office, right across from the police station. I came home one day to find one of these behemoth bugs blocking the entryway to my porch. I tried to shoo it away, but the heinous thing would not move. So I did what any reasonable person would do.

I went right across the street and politely asked Chief Parker to come shoot it dead. Sworn to protect and serve, he came with me to examine the situation and declared, “I can’t kill it.”

Excuse me?

“I can’t kill it because I will kill your soul.”

Excuse me?

Apparently Chief believed that if some creature presented itself in your path, it was a manifestation of your spirit sent to bring you some sort of tiding. Gives a whole new meaning to “don’t kill the messenger,” doesn’t it?

I was very grateful that the Chief was reluctant to kill my soul, but even more grateful when he agreed to move my soul into the grass. I never did figure out what it was telling me though.