Today, my husband, Dave, dug out this old rotted stump from the corner of the back yard. When he finally unearthed it, the thing came out of the ground like a four-foot, twelve-limbed dendrite creature from outer space.
He wanted me to see it right when I got home. So I went into the back yard and I saw the tree root structure, which it is amazing all by itself. Then he told something even more amazing. He said that when he lifted the stump out of the ground, three cicada nymphs dropped off of the thing.
Underground cicadas are like huuuuuge grub worms. They are covered in soft little hairs and they have these beautiful brown markings on the sides and they can live underground for as long as seventeen years! I couldn’t have identified one before today, but luckily Dave knew what he was dealing with. He told me that he took the creatures and carefully re-buried them in some soft dirt at the foot of another tree. Later, he took a closer look at the dendrite root stump and he discovered even more of these cicada nymphs. Some were clinging to the outside of the tree’s roots, writhing from the shock of all that space and light, and a some remained curled up and tucked deep in the spaces of the termite eaten wood. Dave got them all back underground as best he could.
This whole thing pretty much blew my mind because unusual nature encounters are truly, some of the highlights of my life. To think that all of that was going on while I was teaching yoga that morning and then to realize that there are cicadas doing their thing underground all the time while I’m just living life…like I said, it blows my mind. And it’s important because it’s reminders like these that inspire wonder in me and help me to appreciate nature and the planet and the mysteries of life. And when I have this feeling, it puts my worries in perspective.
Even though I clearly have an awestruck feeling around these insects with extraordinary life-spans and life-cycles and even though I could imagine how relieved they all were to be back underground, my voyeuristic urges got the best of me. I asked Dave if he thought he could find one so I could see it with my own eyes. He immediately dug up one of these creatures and held it in his the palm of his gloved hand. The light shined upon that cicada there and it was kind of like opening the ark of the covenant in Raiders of the Lost Ark when all that light burst out in all directions. I can’t remember if those guys in the movie were seeing God or if it was a horrible curse that melted their faces off, but in that moment there in my backyard, I could relate to the unfortunates in the movie. I couldn’t help but stare at this holy creature, and yet I knew in my heart, that I wasn’t supposed to see it until it had a hard shell and wings and beady eyes. It was so soft and vulnerable and clearly a creature of the dark. I wasn’t supposed to look upon it, yet there I was.
So that’s it. That’s my story. And I guarantee you, I’ll be thinking about that grubby cicada creature in quiet moments in the months ahead. Because even though the whole encounter was super-weird, it was also super amazing. When I remember to feel how amazing this world is, I can better appreciate how amazing it is that I’m here doing what I’m doing. I get a glimpse of the miracle and the gift it is to have meaningful encounters with people I love. I remember that the life that abounds right around me all the time is a wonderment and it is possible for me to feel (and look and connect) to that amazing stuff anytime. Any. Time. It is possible.