The cicadas are where the uproot isn’t. Those of us living in the oldest, most unchanged neighborhoods suffer the most. I live in Delhi, which was first European-settled in 1789; a strip mall was added at the intersection of Delhi Pike and Anderson Ferry at some later point and pretty much nothing else since.
The greater the upheaval in an area, the fewer the cicadas. Claw up their feeding ground at any point during their 17-year period of tending to Cincinnati’s subway, and their numbers decrease, if ever so slightly. But in the city’s older neighborhoods, the shrill mating call rises and falls beneath the high, unearthly sci-fi upper tones of so many cicadas in so many places that they’ve created their own steady thrum of noise pollution.
We can’t deal with this. Not this year. We just got out of the house. But even on a night when the Reds faithful were permitted to return at 100% capacity, 11,879 people showed up. If it’s not COVID, it’s cicadas; if it’s not cicadas, it’s rain; if it’s not rain, it’s the bullpen. We can’t. We can’t. Check back after a few Christmases when we’re all allowed to hug each other.
As it is, the only place to escape is where the evil developers, bless them, have turned the earth. Josh The PIlot and I enjoyed a lovely evening at The Banks this weekend. He was there and I was there and the ballpark was there and our watery cocktails were there and you know what wasn’t there? A bunch of cicadas. Massive amounts of development have taken place in the area since the last emergence, and I smugly surveyed a cicada-lite sky from my perch on a rooftop bar. But then I saw the young thin trees planted in the green spaces below and I realized we were going to have to find another bar by 2038.
Entire baseball stadiums have arisen since we last endured this. Nationals Park opened in 2008, plus a couple others; the cicadas don’t care, because this took place in Texas and Florida, where they have enough problems being Texas and Florida, so Brood X has left them alone.
As an artist and a sensitive soul, I’m supposed to regard this event as a celebration of the miraculous timing and abundance of nature. I don’t. Cicadas are disgusting and I hate them. People patiently explaining that “cicadas don’t bite” and “they can’t hurt you” weren’t at the gas station with me today and need to help pay for the increase in my meds.
It was a horrendous event exclusively caused, perpetuated, and unnecessarily extended by cicadas. I had to wash some of their miraculous timing off my car because I’d driven faster than 4 miles an hour past Mt. Airy Forest, and they were swarming the pump. It was a horror movie of a Kroger Fuel Points activation. And, judging by the harrowing chrrrrrps issuing from somewhere in the vicinity of the passenger seat, I had transported one from Green Township to Delhi and it was trying to fly.
I freaked-out my way to the window squeegee, the reservoir of which was a watery grave of many floating members of Brood X. I tried to flush the cicada out, but no, I was hosting the lone smart one in a class of 5 trillion. It lay low, either tag teaming with an equally horrible friend during two subsequent events when I thought I’d evicted it, began to drive home, and then: chrrrrrp.
By the time I hit the driveway, I had all four car doors plus the sunroof open, but no way to extract the cicada, who by now was enjoying life in the backseat. He wasn’t scaring off when I tried to shoo him from a non-eye contact distance; he quite the peaceful protester, this cicada.
The only way out for him was a long-handled shovel, which, I discovered, to my great sorrow, was unusable due to its proximity to a spider and its own stupid abundant nature in the garage. So then I had to find a snow scraper to free the shovel to shove the cicada, who by this point had taken completely over the car and was using it to raise beer money with Uber runs. I will never eat again. I will never love again. Currents of air conditioning sweeping past my arm now cause me to jerk away and flee far, far, far.
I stand before you now, fellow citizens, covered in cicada gas station juice and spider web remnants, and I place before you one small request. Deforest the entire TriState while we still can. Total environmental destruction is the only way out.
I suppose I could back a team and a town where this never happens in the first place, but the cicadas are where the uproot isn’t. And I am rooted. Even when I’m unseen, living apart for a while, I’m clinging to this patch of Earth.