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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Clack-clacks Gone!

Here’s what a cicada looks like; I’ve never knowingly
seen one.  Photo courtesy of Turtuga Blanku,
a musician and biologist.

CLANK-clank chime the halyards inside our mast as we rock ‘n roll in the swells 0f Simpson Bay, Philipsburg, Sint Maarten, ROARRRRR soar the jets at the nearby  Princess Juliana International Airport  (also known as Saint Maarten International Airport)  airport.  BBBRRRRRrrrrrrr echo the smaller craft, from the same location.  In quieter moments, SLOSH-slap, whispers the water, rocking us side to side (it is quite swelly here -- for non-boaties -- that is not a good thing).

What we don’t hear is the “clack-clacks’” “squeeeee-EEK,” which Robert Devaux, from The St. Lucia Research Centre" clarified “are cicadas, not grasshoppers.  He adds, “They are one of the loudest noise-makers of the insect world and can potentially cause deafness in humans at 128 decibels. They’re really quite harmless and cannot bite or sting, but might try to penetrate your skin and suck your juices only if allowed. There are hundreds of species worldwide; they vary considerably, but all do basically the same thing and that is to make NOISE.”  Leon Pors, a wildlife conservationist and environmental educator, further explains the sounds is made by males, wooing their ladies, to initiate the cycle of life. 

Not surprisingly, cicadas are considered symbolic of rebirth and the cycle of life, fertility, happiness, a happy time with old friends…. No wonder we found the sound joyous!

Oh sure, we knew the day would come when we would no longer hear the orchestral sound of thousands of stuck wheel bearings chirping together.  In anticipation, I’ve searched to no avail for a sound file that captures their nocturnal song. I’ve found other cicada recordings, but their song is not the same.

We expect we’ll hear clack-clacks again soon enough once we move on from Simpson Bay, but we know the day will come when they’re gone forever, and we’ll miss them.  Nomadic as we are, we’ve come to associate clack-clacks with the sound of home, a time to slow down, watch the sunset, enjoy supper and reflect on our blessings especially as we enter the New Year, including clack-clacks.