Suzi Cicada: Chapter 2

“EXCUSE ME, but who do you think you are tumbling into my den?” The voice was deep, sonorous. “Not so much as a knock on the door or a hello,” it growled. Suzi drew back as far as she could, but she was trapped.  The wet thing pulled away, but Suzi felt danger. She had no idea what was there with her. She decided that being exceedingly polite may be her best defense.

“My apologies, sir,” she stammered. “I lost my balance and my manners in one fell swoop. I sense something deliciously warm above, and all I can do is climb. I have been climbing for days.”

“Is it that time already?” The voice in the dark was gentler.  “How quickly the years roll by.”

Curiosity overtook Suzi’s good sense.  “What time is that, if you pardon my asking?”

“Time for the neighborhood to get all mixed up. You cicadas will be moving up top this year more than ever. Let me see your eyes…hmmmm. You are part of that Brood X, aren’t you? You are the first up! What’s the rush?” The stranger appeared to be well informed.

“I truly have no idea,” Suzi said. I have spent forever sucking on a tree’s root, which got to be rather boring. I just stopped paying attention. Recently, I got the urge to move, and I have the feeling that something big will happen soon. May I ask into whose home I now have dropped?”

“Certainly! I am Sam Salamander. I am of the Yellow Spotted Salamander clan, and I have just returned home after my annual jaunt for a couple of days above ground. Met a few friends, took care of some business,” chortled Sam, mostly to himself. “And you do not want to be heading up early. You know the saying. The early bird gets the worm. That goes both ways. The early worm gets gotten.”

Suzi had tried to be polite, but this odd creature was rambling about a mystery, and an annoying one at that. She most certainly was not a worm. And what was “a bird” anyway? Suzi paused and took a few deep breaths (a relaxation trick she had learned from a shrew), then patiently acknowledged his unsolicited advice.  “I thank you for your concern, but I must be on my way. I, too, must meet friends,” although clearly she had no ideas of what “a friend” meant. Suzi knew that if she sounded positive and had strong body language, she did not need to know what she was talking about to be convincing. “Before I depart,” she added haughtily,” You mentioned something about time. Who is time?”

“What, not who.” replied the salamander. “You and your many brothers and sisters, your whole subspecies, have been growing underground for about 17 years. According to my calendar, you have one more month before you are to take over the forest. How do you all keep track of 204 months? It is all I can do to remember to clamber out to the pond once every 12,” rambled Sam.

Suzi thought this blubbering old fellow could not be more confusing or, frankly, irritating. What was he going on about with all those numbers and nonsense words? And what is a subspecies or forest anyway?

She had not planned a visit, and now, so much time later, he was wasting her time. Time much better spent seeking the warmth and solving the mystery of “soon.”

“My apologies, Sam, but I just don’t know about tracking time. I do have to leave now. Thank you for the visit,” she said as firmly and sweetly as she could muster.

“Just be careful,” Sam warned. Suzi just nodded and headed up towards the heat.  She was determined to get her own answers. Soon.

Read Chapter 3 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 https://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/news2/social-hub/ for Fairfax County Government's Comment Policy.

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