Cicadas on the Brain

For the past few weeks we’ve been invaded by Brood X. I’ve never experienced so many cicadas in my life, bumbling through the air, buzzing and thrumming from the trees. They have no fear because their sheer numbers assure their species’ survival against all threat. They landed on us as we walked, hit our windshield like seeds, they even grounded planes for awhile at BWI Airport.

At their most numerous, the sound was overwhelming, almost like rising and cresting ocean waves.

Then, they began to die off and now the streets and sidewalks are littered with their remains. I never expected to feel sad about it. These 200-million-year-old creatures made me feel hopeful. With all the sad and terrible environmental news, it is comforting to know that at least these insects are immune to our destruction. I believe they will go on long after we’re extinct. Still, I’m a little sad to know their time has come and gone, for now.

I made this embroidery to mark this natural event, using a reference photo of a little traveler I found on our deck one day. The support is a vintage linen napkin.

The process required a lot of adjusting and layering of color, much like a painting.

Growing up in the midwest and having lived in the mid-Atlantic US region for many years, cicadas (1, 3, 7, and 17-year broods) are part of the sound of summer. It’s a reminder that teeming life is all around us.

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