Suzi Cicada: Chapter 1

Life underground as captured in this artwork by Tim Knepp, which is part of Hidden Oaks’ permanent exhibit, Urban Woodlands: Habitats and Havens.

Suzi Cicada was the first one awake. Maybe she misread her clock. Maybe it was the excitement. She wasn’t sure. She didn’t know.

On this day in particular, she didn’t know that getting up early might be a fatal mistake.

Suzi wobbled and stared into the morning dark. She felt different. This was strange. For almost 17 years, Suzi had not cared for anything other than sipping sap from a nearby tree root. Today, she felt energized.

Like her many brothers and sisters, Suzi had dug deep into the soil one early summer’s day and never looked back. She was one foot underground. Her life, day in and day out, repeated the same cycle – suck sap, sleep, repeat. On a few exciting days, she would shed her exoskeleton, her exuviae, as she grew bigger, but even that became routine after the first two times because all insects do that. She rarely sensed much of any other life underground. Her whole existence was boring, dull. Nothing changed. Ever.

Until it did.

At first, Suzi just felt sort of itchy, somewhat prickly. She had been content to stay in one spot, but now she wanted to shuffle her six feet and pull her chunky body forward. She crawled up a root, thinking all she really wanted was a new root to sip. She started to feel a warmth coming from one particular direction, an odd, new sensation, and she slowly straggled towards it.

Moving through dense soil, though refreshingly new, was exhausting. Her sharp feet could clasp onto bits of soil but were no help pushing through rock. Rocks meant detours, and detours meant – Thunk! She hit her head on a thick root, forcing her to zig and zag for better passage. She sometimes found loose soil, or even -– hooray — a tunnel kindly left by an earthworm. And then another immovable object. The journey was taking days. Suzi was losing the glow of this adventure, but something drove her forward. She didn’t know what. She dreamed each night of one echoing refrain. “Soon!”

Suzi remained energized by the pull of that warmth above her. No one and nothing pushed her on but herself and that new, intoxicating, itchy feeling. She woke one morning realizing that something else was new. She was not hungry. Since she had begun her climb, she had not wanted to eat.

No food, and the echo of dreams telling her “soon.” “Soon for what?,” thought Suzi. She felt no need to ask aloud, for there was no one to hear her. The warmth above lured her upward, but she passed no one. Suzi sighed. She would learn what “soon” meant soon enough. Chuckling at her wit, she neglected to watch her footing. The ground gave way. Suzi tumbled with crumbs of soil bouncing alongside headlong into a pit. She felt a wet smack across her face.

Read Chapter 2 of Suzi Cicada.

Author Suzanne Holland is the Visitor Center Manager at Hidden Oaks Nature Center, which is home to lots and lots of cicadas!

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About Fairfax County Park Authority

About Fairfax County Park Authority HISTORY: On December 6, 1950, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors created the Fairfax County Park Authority. The Park Authority was authorized to make decisions concerning land acquisition, park development and operations in Fairfax County, Virginia. To date, 13 park bond referenda have been approved between 1959 and 2016. Today, the Park Authority has 427 parks on more than 23,000 acres of land. We offer 325 miles of trails, our most popular amenity. FACILITIES: The Park system is the primary public mechanism in Fairfax County for the preservation of environmentally sensitive land and resources, areas of historic significance and the provision of recreational facilities and services including: • Nine indoor RECenters with swimming pools, fitness rooms, gyms and class spaces. Cub Run features an indoor water park and on-site naturalist • Eight golf courses from par-3 to championship level, four driving ranges including the new state-of-the-art heated, covered range at Burke Lake Golf Center • Five nature and visitor centers. Also nine Off-Leash Dog Activity areas • Three lakefront parks including Lake Fairfax, Lake Accotink and Burke Lake, with campgrounds at Burke Lake and Lake Fairfax. The Water Mine Family Swimmin’ Hole at Lake Fairfax, Our Special Harbor Sprayground at Lee as well as an indoor water park at Cub Run RECenter • Clemyjontri Park, a fully accessible playground in Great Falls featuring two acres of family friendly fun and a carousel, as well as Chessie’s Big Backyard and a carousel at the Family Recreation Area at Lee District Park • An ice skating rink at Mount Vernon RECenter and the Skate Park in Wakefield Park adjacent to Audrey Moore RECenter • Kidwell Farm, a working farm of the 1930s-era at Frying Pan Farm Park in Herndon, now with historic carousel • Eight distinctive historic properties available for rent • A working grist mill at Colvin Run in Great Falls and a restored 18th century home at Sully Historic Site in Chantilly • A horticulture center at Green Spring Gardens in Annandale • Natural and cultural resources protected by the Natural Resource Management Plan and Cultural Resource Plans, plus an Invasive Management Area program that targets alien plants and utilizes volunteers in restoring native vegetation throughout our community • Picnic shelters, tennis courts, miniature golf courses, disc golf courses, off-leash dog parks, amphitheaters, a marina, kayaking/canoeing center • Provides 263 athletic fields, including 39 synthetic turf fields, and manages athletic field maintenance services at 417 school athletic fields. PARK AUTHORITY BOARD: A 12-member citizen board, appointed by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, sets policies and priorities for the Fairfax County Park Authority. Visit for Fairfax County Government's Comment Policy.

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