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By Joberta Wells
As I get older I am more aware of the seasons and things that define them. Songs of the burgeoning fauna fascinate me, especially after a long hard winter.
In late February or early March we begin to hear one of my favorite songs, the song of the spring peepers (Pseudacris crucifer), otherwise known as frogs. They inhabit every pond, every ditch, and every low-lying marsh and they inhabit my heart with joy. I love these little guys and their song.
On warm mornings in March you begin to hear the song of the robins (Turdus migratorius) who have returned to tell us that spring is on its way. Their song sounds like "cheer-i-up." I am crazy about those big old red-breasted birds and their song.
One of the songs I look forward to the most is the song of the wood thrush (Hylocichla mustelina). This lovely birdsong is so dear to me. It sounds sort of like "whee-do-lay." When we were kids in Powell County near Natural Bridge we used to hear them and my sister and I always referred to them as "vacation birds." I didn't know their name until about 15 years ago. They winter in Central America and show up here early on a nice morning in April. If my bedroom window is open, I grin all over myself when I hear them. They don't stay long, sad to say, and start their long flight back to Costa Rica or other parts of Central America around the first of August. I miss that beautiful song.
Around the first to middle of July we start hearing the nocturnal song of the katydid (Scudderia septentrionalis). There's no doubt what they are when you hear "katydid." If you ever see one of these small creatures, you almost feel like you're looking at a leaf. The old wives' tales say that three months after you hear the first katydid you will have your first frost. It's usually close but not always. By the end of summer when the nights are growing cooler, the katydid stops singing in such great numbers.
About the same time you hear the first katydid at night you hear the first "jar fly" or common cicada (Tibicen cicadidae) during the day. I love their brassy, sassy voice. I have noticed that they don't start singing until the temperature is around 85 degrees or higher. I have heard that some cultures elsewhere in the world eat them. Yuck! I cannot imagine eating one of these big bug-eyed insects. I'll stick to Monster Burgers from Breeden & Withers Grocery.
This year is a special year for us in the United States. Every four years we are treated to the songs generated by the Great Whooper (either the Republicanus blowhardicus or the Democraticus blowhardicus - both closely related although they deny it). The songs of each have several sounds: "I will save you," "I will make you rich," "I will make those scumsuckers give you back your money." One of the subspecies, the Mitchmcconnellicus beeninofficetoolongicus, has only one song and that is "Reelect me, reelect me, reelect me."
The seasons wind down into winter, the cold wind blows, sometimes the snow flies, and we live on with hope of the coming spring, lower taxes, money back from the IRS, and the desire to see our politicians ousted from office. Wouldn't it be a hoot if they could serve only one, maybe two, terms? I'd vote for that and I would sing like the bluebirds of spring.
Editor's note: Joberta Wells is a columnist for The Casey County News in Liberty.