Monday, April 21, 2008

in which i don't know whether or not locusts and cicadas are the same thing

I intended to write about this weeks ago but forgot.

A few weeks ago, on a warm spring evening (as opposed to the hot spring evening we are currently experiencing--25 degrees Celsius at 22:00!), Ed and I were sitting in the office with the windows open, doing the kind of nothing that people do in their offices at home on warm spring evenings.

(An aside: I just now sneezed and hit my head on the edge of my laptop. Ow.)

As we sat there, doing nothing, I gradually became aware of a noise. I'd been hearing it for quite some time but hadn't consciously taken note of it. When I finally did begin paying attention to it, I knew immediately what it was: a locust!

Some people find them creepy. Some find them annoying. I find locusts completely fascinating, both in appearance and in lifestyle. ("Lifestyles of the Green and Bug-Eyed!")
As I told Ed on that do-nothing evening of a few weeks ago, the sound of locusts takes me back to childhood summers in Oklahoma, lying awake at night, sweltering in the heat, listening to the locusts as they sang me to sleep.

I've been a lot of places and heard a lot of things, but so far, for me, the sound of locust song is unique to Oklahoma. There's just no other sound like it. And because I associate it with the wonderful, boisterous, adventurous summers of my childhood, it's a sound that is very dear to me. I love walking out into a warm, humid summer evening in Oklahoma and hearing the locusts as they "sing" so loudly, they're almost deafening. Every time I hear them, there's a split second when I'm a kid again.

"Reeeeeeeeeeeeee!" said Ed, imitating the locust. "How would you like it," he asked me, "if your whole purpose in life were to crawl out of the ground in the spring, stretch, look around, and then start making that noise?!"

I laughed.

Oh, and speaking of humid, tonight is definitely the night for that! Earlier, I walked outside, and I could smell the heat and moisture rolling through the air. Like the locust song, this smell is unique to this place. No other place I've been smells quite like this. Germany has its share of humid summers, but they smell different: woodsier somehow, scented with tree mold and green, deep and dark and growing.

Oklahoma humidity smells like earth and rain and wind. It's a wild smell, scented with power barely restrained, occasionally threatening with a hint of ozone. This, too, takes me back to childhood, when storms meant running out into the rain for the sheer joy of getting drenched and seeing the lighting; when climbing water towers didn't seem foolish; when simply everything was possible.


Alisha said...

You do such a great job of describing the smell of Oklahoma. Honestly, the only smell I remember is the Purina dog food plant.

On sneezing -- When I used to work in IT, there were a few people who were notorious for not telling all of the details about how a computer problem came about. Once, after hours of trying to figure out a problem, one such woman finally admitted that she accidentally moved an important file because her hand was on the mouse when she suddenly sneezed. Apparently, the sneeze caused her to drag and drop this file into a different location. I figure it must be true because who would make up such an embarrassing story.

Patricia said...

LOL! Well, as our parents always told us, we shouldn't sit so close to the screen, I guess. :)

And yes, different places certainly do have different smells. Some less-than-pleasant (certain Ubahn stops in Vienna, the diesel fumes in Chicago) and some wonderful (the clear air of the Rockies or an early morning in Missouri).

Court said...

Alisha: Well, nowadays, I don't spend too much time in for me, Purina is definitely a unique-to-Edmond smell and not an Oklahoma smell. ;o)

YUCK! lol

On the accidental file-moving thing: My Grandma does things like that quite frequently. Not because of sneezing, but because she clicks on things and moves the mouse at the same time. Steady hands aren't always a guarantee in one's 80s. ;o)

Patricia: Do you remember the smell of the trees in the Forum at OC? They were always so beautiful, blooming in the springtime...but smelled like rotting meat!