Tonight the woods are beating to a march time. It's Katydid time in the South.
Katydids are big green leaf like crickets...and they rock! I don't mean the cool kind of rock, I mean they rock, as in rock out...a rock and roll beat...no, a march beat...no... They make the noise by...well, I'm not sure how they do it. Now, maybe It seems like a rumba beat, like the rubbing of a stick on that corn cob looking thing that Mrs. Walton would give to some lucky kid during music class in third grade. A rub with the stick would give a pleasing "Scribbidit" sound that went along with the music she played on a World War two Victrola. (Record player, to you juveniles) Now think of the "Scribbidit" noise repeated at Sousa time: "One and Two and One and two...." It goes fast, but that's what it sounds like. But there is more to it...there is a call and an answer. It takes a few nights on the porch, listening, before you can hear the talk within the beat, but there it is. A communication by auditory dance.
In the day time it is in the 90's, temperature and humidity. The big green crickets do their best to look like leaves in the trees...But at night...They rock! Some of them get off the beat now and again but then they all gather up and the night throbs on. The frogs at Lake Steve got nothing on the Katydids, but they try. The throb is just too much and the bugs win! Again and again...all night long. It is late July in the South.
It happens like this every summer. I start listening for the Katydids to start their incessant throbbing in early July but they always make me wait. They don't start until it gets so damned hot during the day that we can't do much outside except lie around the pools. I try to go outside in the evenings and listen. I think I have heard the first katydid call of summer. But not this year. I was wondering if something happened to them last week...I had to travel away for a few days and when I returned, they were hard at work, performing their summer musical revival.
It's hot and salvation comes in many forms. Air conditioning has done wonders to promote office work down here, but it may have cut us off from the natural world. Pregnant women contemplate the unthinkable this time of year. Lives are saved by fifteen dollar inflatable kiddie pools filled with a garden hose... Relief from the heat of Southern America. And come the night? The All American Cricket Drum Corps...Performing their hit tune: It ain't easy being green, so rock me baby all night long...An extended engagement for the rest of the hot summer nights.
Summer sleep can be the best. But not until late at night when it cools down to tolerable sleeping temps. Here in the gorge, we hunt the comforter around midnight. By one a.m., it's nearly always cuddling weather. Sleep hard to the incessant throb of the summer night.
Sometime during the night, they stop. I often lie awake trying to hear the last one. It is near morning, but well before first light. I wonder if they have all found lovers, or if they just get tired and give up. Most of us have done both, at one time or another. After a long night of making the rumba throb...we score, or we give up and wait throughout the next sweltering day until the night comes and signals us to start the dance once more in the darkness.
For a month and a half, we will sleep to a throbbing forest as if it were a huge deisel driven ship that pulsates throught the night toward some destination somewhere near the dawn.
It is good sleep.