This year, when I heard my first cricket chirping, I counted out 13 weeks and calculated that our first hard freeze would be sometime the third week in October. At least that is what the old wives tale says, 13 weeks from the first cricket chirp to first freeze.
There has always been something emotionally stirring in the chirp of the cricket. As the gentle, occasionally funky, calls of frogs and toads give way the insistent songs of cicadas and crickets, my soul stirs—expectant of the change not only of season but also of life that these messengers of nature signal.
Perhaps it is because for so many years the crickets and cicadas heralded the beginning of a new school year, new teachers, new friends, and new adventures that I still harken to them today.
In southern Wisconsin, we are serenaded by the northern field cricket, Gryllus pennsylvanicus. These half- to three-quarter-inch black insects with their long antennae are instantly recognizable if you happen to be lucky enough to see one hidden in a tuft of grass or the corner of your garage. In late summer they are joined by a few other animals, birds and insects in their evensong, but gradually the birds fly south, the frogs and toads become silent for winter, and the other insects complete their life cycles, leaving only the single plaintive song of the cricket to sound the end of summer.
This year, even though I have long since left the cycle of the academic year for the never ending treadmill of the corporate world, the cricket has reawakened in me that sense of sea change. And although, I am not the spry young girl, who sat outside as the sun set and wondered what the new year would hold (kind of like the cricket now, I’m a little bit clumsy and not a great jumper), I can still feel the change of seasons as thoroughly and completely as I ever have. I feel it with every ounce of my being, tasting it in the richness of the crisp evening air.
The change though is not for me; it is for my daughter. She begins kindergarten, formally starting her adventure of education, one that I hope she will enjoy as much as I have.
She becomes a “schoolager” a title that she has aspired to for many months now, chaffing at the thought that she and her other 5-year-old friends are still in classes that are designated as “4-year-old” classes.
“The really should have 5-year classrooms,” she tells me almost every day when I pick her up after work.
Yes, there is a sense of dramatic change, and my soul is singing about it–both proudly and mournfully, like the cricket proclaiming the delicious crispness that has found its way into the air but also marks the beginning of the end of the free summer days. Like the cricket I cannot fly, not this time; this time the flight into the new adventure is for my daughter, not me. This time my wings are made for singing, for telling a story, for heralding great change as a little girl begins to write her own story.
By the time the first freeze hits, probably toward the end of October, our family will be in a routine. What seems like a great change now for which we prepare with new clothes, supply lists, shopping trips and permission forms, will have become habit. Hopefully though we will not take it for granted what has transpired.
Hopefully, as the first frost gives a glistening sparkle to the trees and paints the grass white, I will be able to think back to these late summer evenings and the song of the cricket and marvel at all my daughter is becoming.
© 2012 Michele Arduengo. All rights reserved.