Not sure about the time, but positively it was the hot summer of the year of 2004. NASA’s Spirit and Opportunity landed on Mars successfully. Third installment of the Lord Of The Ring trilogy has stunned the Oscar with 11 nominations and won. One geek (and future millionaire) had created social networking site for Harvard university that was distinctively “liked” for its UI and ease of use for making social connections. US president Ronald Reagan died. Famous sitcom Friends aired one last time.
It was about time to be hatched and come out from secluded niche of the unknown part of the jungle. He was one of other 500 hundred “brothers”. When he came out, it was dark but still could make out the faint outlines of nearby tree branches. He was tiny and vulnerable; ready meal to nearby predators. Something swooped past and picked one of his brothers along with it. He had to dive from his safe perch into below abyss. And had to do it fast. As if dying was essential part of the life, he mustered all courage he could and plunged into darkness below. Briefly, he could witnessed the lot other of his brethren doing the same and that had injected much needed confidence to reach the ground below. Once safely landed on the ground, he started burrowing. Not sure of conscious thinking, he was propelled by natural instinct to dig and bury himself. Reaching the underground safety was first of many dangerous hurdle to surpass.
Later that year, Nintendo DS first introduced in North America. Desktop PCs were still operating on single core Pentium 4 and Athlon processors at the times. And writer of this blog has passed out computer engineering exam as energetic young blood to face the world with ideas, hopes and lots of enthusiasm. Meanwhile, once underground, he stuck itself to juicy roots of the tree and started nurturing himself with delicious root liquids. Sometimes digging deep and sometimes tunneling to other area for better food opportunities, he had started the longest phase of his life underground. Year 2004 ended just like that.
Social networking was cradling and taking its initial baby steps to venture forth in upcoming years. And blogging was still unassailable phenomena to general public by that time. Smartphone revolution was on the rise. Still underground, he has survived the next year and proved his mantle in the race of survival. And the next year and the next. Growing but not drastically, he has settled himself with monotony of living underground with digging, tunneling and feeding along with his other millions of kin.
Fast forward to hot summer of 2021. COVID-19 has authoritarian hold over most “breaking news” throughout the world in previous year as well as current. Elon musk’s Space X was successfully launched and returned. Marvel has established itself as emerging movie franchise with unimaginable opening of “Avengers:End game”. Facebook along with WhatsApp, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and what not has completely overhauled human lives. Streaming channels and binge watching are new “in” things displacing sitcoms. Intel unveiled its 11th-gen Rocket Lake CPUs and AMD has already launched 64 core Ryzen Threadripper previous year. And writer of this blog has managed to successfully establish himself as software professional and resided in Indiana, USA.
Same natural inspiration that has compelled him to take leap of faith from his “birthplace” to ground below, stirred the instinct to resurface now in 2021. He grew in size by the span of 17 years and became nymph. Might be temperature or dampness of soil or whatever but he had sudden urge to claw back up to the surface. He started towards it. And once made it out of the ground realized that he was not alone but there were millions of them crawling out of ground. He has to race towards nearby tree. Once settled down on bark of the tree, he had to earn his precious freedom not only from 17 years of underground confinement but also from his own outer “skin”. He started shredding outer layer of body, following that same invisible instinct. Once out of the exoskeleton, he didn’t wait to admire his new look of black body outlined with fire-induced orange and red adorned with chitinous wings. He just expanded the wings, flapped and fly away to higher grounds, joined by millions of other similar populace. All these millions though compete for survival, tried to sync up with their unique rhythmic symphony. And loudly present their arrival; brood X.
While the above story was taking place, one hot Saturday in June 2021, We decided to “cool off” nearby water bodies easily accessible during one day trip. We went to Cagles Mill Lake, home of popular Cataract Falls. Though famous trail that takes visitors through covered bridge and at the edge of Upper Cataract Falls was closed off due to high rainfall previous few days, trip has redeemed itself by reveling 17 year old natural phenomena in its beautiful black and orange glory. Trees in and around the place were teeming with thousands and thousands of Cicadas called brood X. Entire place was rhythmically buzzing with them.
While we were lucky enough to witness such amazing natural occurrence, this event is justly welcomed and celebrated throughout USA. Adults and kids alike made aware of the knowledge and know-how. Also, there were merchandise dedicated to brood X to celebrate their arrival. Some even went on to ink themselves with brood X. While 2021 was going to be remembered for brood X emergence, protagonist of our brood X story might have completed his lifespan with success, with next new generation awaiting their hatching and re-emergence 17 years later.
PS: Scientific reason behind millions of brood X to emerge at same time is called prey satiation. Higher number of cicadas are so many that even after all surrounding predators have their hunger satisfied, there will be much more to carry on with next generation.