New experience fell upon new experience with such speed that Suzi could not separate one from the other. Her eyes saw colors and shapes, she heard whirring and crunching. The breeze tickled her skeleton, and her feet could hardly keep her bulky body upright. For the first time ever, she did not have soil or rocks nudging her from all sides. She giggled in delight. What freedom! What relief to feel warm light, to see what the next step brings, to venture out….
Suzi fell on her back, all six legs clawing the air helplessly. Above, she saw a shiny black eye on the side of an enormous fuzzy head that was cocked in her direction. Pincers horrifically bigger than the beetle’s thrusted towards her. She heard Sam’s low voice rumble.
“Hey bird! I’m tastier that that crunchy old beetle!”
The blue jay lunged at Sam just as he darted into a crevice under the log. Benjamin and his dad tackled Suzi, rolling her under the log. Irritated, the bird flew off as children raced down the path.
“What was that?” shrieked Suzi.
“A bird,” gasped Benjamin, rather indignantly.
“But the salamander told me that the early bird gets the worm. I’m a cicada, not a worm. And why did Sam call me a beetle?”
Benjamin’s father kindly replied, “Sam is right. The early bird does get the worm, but many birds eat many kinds of insects throughout the day. Sam knows you are a cicada. He just needed to distract the bird with a word that he figured the blue jay knew. Most insects are a type of beetle, you know. Your kind of cicada does not come around very often. Much better to appeal to the bird’s hope for a bigger meal. Birds are not considered too bright – at least by us log folk. “
Suzi realized just how close she had come to disaster.
“Thank you for saving me,” she responded. Then she remembered. “Is Sam all right?”
“Sam is fine.” It was Benjamin’s dad again. “He’s been living under our family’s log for almost 20 years. Or so he says. None of us bess beetles, or any of the neighbors, have lived long enough to remember. He said for you to stay put until he catches up to us again. He wants a word with you this evening.”
Another deep breath. “I’m in no hurry now to get out into the light,” assured Suzi. “Let’s wait together, please. I’m so frazzled I feel like I could crawl out of my exoskeleton.”
Author Suzanne Holland is the Visitor Center Manager at Hidden Oaks Nature Center, which is home to lots and lots of cicadas!