I found a tiny speckled fawn curled next to my compost pile last week. It just lay there, moving only enough to track my movement down the path as I headed into the woods. When I returned twenty or thirty minutes later, I was astonished to find it still there, still positioned exactly the same way, and no doe in sight.
So far this spring, I have watched a red fox trot past me as I sat next to the stream. I’ve seen three turtles, one of which may have been a baby, or perhaps something other than a box turtle. I found a garter snake in my pile of woodchips. And the other day, a hummingbird buzzed by to let me know it was back in town for the summer.
The fireflies are blinking in the trees at night. Every day, I sit and listen to the flute-like song of the wood thrush, the “Jeremy! Jeremy! Jeremy!” of Carolina wrens, the “drink your te-e-ea” of rufus-sided towhee. I hear the calls of cardinals and tufted titmice and chickadees and so many other birds I can’t identify.
But today is a day to mark. Today I heard the insistent whir of cicadas for the first time this season. Cicadas are the sound of summer for me. When I walk out in the morning and their song is already swelling, I know the day will be a scorcher.
A farmer once told me that you can know when the first frost will come by counting ninety days from the first sound of the cicadas. (Although, to be honest, that was in Pennsylvania; I’m not sure that counts two hardiness zones to the south in Virginia.)
What I do know, however, is that the cicadas are early this year. By more than a week. Which makes me wonder about their predictive accuracy. Will the frost come early too? Or will it be more than ninety days before frost signals the end of summer? Who would be surprised to find that climate change is messing with the Farmer’s Almanac too?