Don’t let this cute kitten face fool you. This is the same creature who hopped onto my bed at 3:42 am Saturday night and brought me a present fresh from the backyard, still alive and wriggling in her mouth!
Maybe she felt sorry for me, abandoned for the weekend by the man human, leaving me with a big empty space in the bed and none of his musical snoring to sleep by. So she hopped up and SHE LET WHATEVER IT WAS LOOSE ON MY CHEST (!) and then chased it all over my covers while my brain tried to figure out what was happening in my bed and whether I should be alarmed.
YES, I decided. YES, I SHOULD BE ALARMED.
Before I go any further, I should temper any feelings you may have about her cuteness by showing you her mugshot instead.
See? This is the photo that one of my neighbors posted on our neighborhood website, writing “This kitten was hanging out on our porch this evening. Does anyone know whose it is?” Jill looks a little startled, clutched by a stranger, her arms stick straight in front of her, as if the woman was trying to make Jill her own personal puppet. Jill, my dear, to you I say, HA! That’s what you get when you act like a little hussy cat, crossing streets without my permission!
So the prodigal cat came home to kill her loving mother with a heart attack. What was this gift ping ponging around the foot of my bed? It was grey in the moonlight. Maybe a very small mouse? A shrew? But it hopped vast distances, from one of my feet to the other, and I was spread out in fear under the covers like a jujitsu warrior. And I thought I saw wings! A mouse with wings? WHY IS TODD NEVER HERE WHEN CHILDREN HAVE TO GO TO THE HOSPITAL OR MICE WITH WINGS ARE IN MY BED?
Then the mystery gift bounded onto the floor and Jill cornered it behind the bedroom door and it sounded like they were wrestling in plastic- not the soft kind, like plastic wrap, but the harder kind, like the packaging of a Nerf gun or a Darth Vader figurine. But we hadn’t bought any of those. What in the world was making all that racket?
It was this.
If you are a cicada, then I apologize for heartlessly flashing a scene out of an insect slasher movie in front of your face without any trigger warning. Unfortunately for the cicada, it appears that half of him/her may be missing, probably inside my cat or somewhere else to surprise me later.
Don’t scoff. The creature seemed much much bigger in the dark, and those wings are in remarkable shape for all the plastic noise they made being crinkled up by kitten paws. But the insect really is stunning, I have to admit. If you cover up the body in the photo, you can’t help admire the beauty of the wings. It’s like they were designed with geometric precision, ready to be plated with slivers of glass to mount in a shade of a Tiffany lamp.
What? You don’t include bug bodies in your household decor?
Me neither. Well, until we moved to France. Cicadas, or cigales, as they say, are kind of a thing there. They’re a symbol of Provence, the sunny southern part of France which everyone loves, including me, so I guess that explains why my husband bought me as a present a big glazed bug to hang on the wall and I actually did it. And it also helps us remember our first day in Clermont Ferrand, when we pulled up to our temporary apartment with 9 suitcases, three children, and an old cat, and there hanging beside the front door were two large blue ceramic bugs. Because nothing says Bienvenue better than cockroaches!
But they weren’t cockroaches. They were cigales, cicadas, little bugs that sing their crazy life away. And their life is crazy! The mama lays her eggs in a slit in the bark of a tree. When the eggs hatch, they fall out of the tree onto the ground and burrow below, where they live until they emerge 13 or 17 years later. And when they come into the light, they immediately shed their skins, leaving their old exoskeletons still attached to the bark of a tree like little bug statues. They live 2-5 more years, drinking sap from trees and driving humans crazy with their constant singing, trying to find love and make the most of their crazy life.
So Jill, I guess cicadas aren’t all bad. Maybe there’s a message in there about coming into the light, shedding your tough shell, and making your life a search for love, singing your own song. But the message I’m taking? Close the cat door before bed, Becky. Especially when the man human is out of town.