Crickets

Autumn Grasshopper

We have successfully transitioned from the dog days of August to more halcyon days. Summer’s heat and humidity have left us, hopefully for good and left us with temperate days and cool nights. Sometimes these nights are not so cool that a window or two can be left open. On those nights our city soundscape is filled with the sound of crickets. The hum of airconditioners—crickets. Highway 40’s traffic noise—crickets. The endless loop of thoughts that twirl in my head, before I mange to drift off to sleep—crickets. Locally, nights like these are called good sleeping weather. Anne calls cool nights like these, cabin weather.

Although our 10-day forecast shows this pleasant weather pattern continuing unabated, it cannot go on forever. Today marks the equinox, leading to our eventual fall into cold and darkness, but hey, let’s make merry and light, for who knows what tomorrow may bring? The fable of the grasshopper and the ant is a cautionary tale about adopting this kind of attitude, but apparently this story has a B-side. In this version, instead of praising the ant’s industriousness and decrying the idleness of the grasshopper, the ant is painted as the stingy villain and the grasshopper as the sympathetic hero. Whichever version you choose though, neither of them end all that well for the grasshopper.

Yesterday, Anne and I drove out forty-four to the Shaw Nature Reserve. This place was originally envisioned by the botanical gardens as a refuge from the coal fired pollution that had been plaguing the garden in the city. Improving air conditions alleviated the need for a country nursery and the nature reserve was re-envisioned as an entity of its own. Much larger than the main garden, it offers miles of trails to roam. We had not been there is almost a year. It has been eight months since we’ve even visited the city garden. Being larger and less popular, Shaw seemed like a safer bet. With e-tickets in hand, we checked it out. When we parked, there was only one other car in the main parking lot.

Arriving mid-morning, it wasn’t until the afternoon that we began to see other people. In the morning, it was still quite cool and the crickets and cicada were still relatively mute. Whenever we stopped and the noise of our footsteps fell silent, there was an eerie quiet in the woods. Much of the grounds are devoted to a tall grass prairie, representing what much of this area looked like before it was settled. In this sea of grass the paths are as wide as a car lane, yet still stalks of grass can bow in and touch similar stalks from the other side. The grass is so tall that you cannot see over it, leading to an almost tunnel like effect. Roll to save!

We did see some wildlife. Tons of butterflies and locust would dart out of our way. We heard more often than saw the Red-headed woodpeckers that are indigenous. We saw a deer, but the find of the day was a Yellow-billed cuckoo.