Thursday, September 11, 2008

Cricket in the House

In these last days of summer, I'm reminded of another reason (beyond the moon and the stars) that I live in Big Sur: the symphony of crickets that come out in the warm evenings to sing.

There's a huge community of serenading Gryllidae in our garden. Like La Tuna in Spain, they start up around sunset and go pretty much all night, chirping below our (imaginary) balcony.

I've always thought they harmonized beautifully: one group making a see-sawing chirp, the other a long, low hum. It's mesmerizing, soothing, the perfect lullaby for sleeping under the stars. The last time I listened to their concert this way, I saw a shooting star, truly one of life's great moments.

There's a tiny tribe that lives in the passion flower arch on our walkway. When we stand beneath it late at night, they give us an intimate performance, in surround-sound.

Last week, I cut some passion flower vines and put them in a vase above my bed. Late that night I was awoken by a lonely little green cricket, singing right next to me. It's considered good luck to have a cricket in your house in many cultures. It can mean the arrival of money (yes please!) or other good things.

So I did a little research on my insect friends. And, oh god, what did I find? (I should have known.) All those crickets are having sex (or crying out for it) especially this time of year, before the long, cold winter.

It's the males who sing, either to attract females (and repel other males) with the see-saw chirp or to broadcast their post-coital bliss to the heavens (the happy hum.) It's called stridulation, and they do it by rubbing their right forewing against the ribs on their powerful left forewing, kind of like playing a violin. Now that's exciting!

Where the crickets live

1 comment:

Soham said...

You are brilliant! Of course, art and function, a new integration for Christo. Perhaps even we could distress acres of jeans fabric before it goes off to the seamstresses.