The Cicada Nymph
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Here it is the school holidays, springtime and the sun is shining and birds are singing and winging. It's a pleasant 28 degrees Celsius (82 degrees F) in the City of Fun in the Sun situated on the subtropical coast of the Sunshine State.
I'm the only one in the park. No kids in sight. Only the sounds of nature fill the ear. When I was young you used to have to stake out your spot in the park where your game of footie or cricket would be. Other times we just played in the dirty old creek coming home muddy and stinky and having to be hosed down before we were allowed in the house. Now I guess there's the computer, DVD's, PS2's, malls and theme parks. Lucky for me!
A big 3-foot bearded dragon goes bolting across the long dry reeds of the creek beds and hides in a water drain outlet. He pokes his big grey head up and over the edge, keeping an eye on me. A kookaburra begins his laughing call as a brigade of grey-bodied yellow-billed sapsuckers pesters him. He is sitting in one of the melaleuca or paperbark trees, whose white fibrous bark peels off in large flakes. They are usually found along waterways and rivers.
Further along the creek and I notice this one big tree which has spines sticking out of its trunk everywhere. I don't know what type of tree this one is. I have climbed that tree before and it's no picnic. Somebody has come along and chopped off all the lower spines off the trunk. They probably bumped into it or tried to climb it and got all the spines in them. Or someone may have complained to the council. At least they didn't cut it down completely.
Lots of birds out! Crested grey pigeons line the waterway. The males bend over and fan their large tails in display trying to court the females. The galahs with their white heads, grey wings and pink bodies are on the grassy ground on the sloping banks waddling about picking the grass seeds out to munch on. They remind me of old women with white hair, pink pullovers and grey cardigans. Lorikeets streak by above in their formation squadrons.
In the creek there are two pairs of ducks. Two were Pacific Black Ducks with blackish crowns, white faces with two black stripes, and one through the eye. Their body plumage is a dark brown with green speculum on their wings. The others are, I think, Chestnut Teals. Mottled grey-brown ducks with a teensy bit of green and white on their wings. Funny to see these two pairs swimming and diving together looking so comfortable with each other.
In the bush now I travel off the pathways through the leaf litter strewn forest. I am careful for there are many green shoots coming up. As this is the only area not affected by clearing or the fires I go gently and softly. The trees and foliage are thick here. I go down into this little shaded grove with its carpet of brown, orange and green leaves. As I take a step and there is an explosion as about a dozen orangey-brown butterflies which were indistinguishable in the leaf litter spring up. Around and around in spiral circles they spin before flitting up and away to find a less-populated grove.
I find the shell of a cicada beetle. These little guys live for fourteen years under the ground and then the cicada nymph emerges, sheds her skin and then flits around for five weeks before they die. Some people work all their lives consumed with accumulating enough money to spend a short retirement enjoying it. I was there for ten years staring out the windows of the grey office blocks wishing I were outside enjoying the day. I pick my way through the branches and vines back to the path and follow the bike track back home.
Like the grasses showing tender faces to each other, thus should we do, for this was the wish of the Grandfathers of the World.