Posts Tagged ‘cicada’

So…what’s up with this recent trend in “before you die” literature?! (Let’s call them BYD books).

I see these books at the front of bookstores, mentioned in magazine articles and, most recently, featured in the new books section of my library. January’s issue of the Smithsonian has an article talking about all of this.  Can we blame this on the Boomers, too? It is certainly targeted at a certain demographic and income bracket.

How many of us can afford to visit fabulous but often far, far away places? Here is the description of some events you must do BYD according to one book:

Dog-sledding, Sweden — Aboriginal dreaming, Australia — Crossing the divide, Turkey — Exploring rainforest and reef, Belize — Châteaux and wine-tasting, France — River-running, Zambia — Flying safari, Namibia — Tracking spirit bears, Canada — Fly-fishing and whisky, Scotland — Hiking through Arches, USA — Tasting warrior life, Mongolia — ‘Lost world’ river journey, Venezuela — Himalayan adventure, Nepal — Watching Aida, Italy — Driving Californian surf, USA — Swimming in thermal spas, Iceland — Gambling and glitz, USA — Riding elephants, Nepal — Heli-hiking in the Rockies, Canada — Felucca down the Nile, Egypt — Climbing a volcano, Guatemala — Trekking the Milford Track, New Zealand — Camel trekking, Jordan — Partying at Mardi Gras, USA — Red Sea diving, Egypt — Riding white horses, New Zealand — Walking the wall, China — Discovering wild flowers, Crete — Finding paradise, the Maldives — Souk shopping, Morocco — Following wildebeest, Tanzania — Palace on wheels, India — Trekking Torres del Paine, Chile — Sea-kayaking Baja, Mexico — Rice-boat cruising, India — Skiing the Vallée Blanche, France — Cycling among rice paddies, Vietnam — Festival of the Sahara, Tunisia — Discovering a medieval city, Estonia — Searching for pearls, French Polynesia.

 Shouldn’t that book have been listed as: 1001 Things Millionaires Must do Before They Die ?!

And who has the time (or inclination for that matter) to find the book 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die useful? (OK, I am making a special exemption for my brother-in-law…but that’s his job to review them, after all). Our library also has these BYD books for albums, gardens, natural wonders, buildings and, of course, books.

And why the 1001 number? What, someone was watching too much of The Price is Right and decided to up the ante by one? (“What’s the highest bid so far? Well, then I bid 1000 and one…ha ha!”)

I will mention that I have been lucky enough to have seen some spectacular places/experiences (mainly on my parent’s dime when I was under eighteen). However, because I like you, I won’t list 1001 of them here:

  1. The North Rim of the Grand Canyon: Forget the congested, tacky South Rim and go to the real deal. Un-freakin-believable! (Hey, I’m a children’s librarian now…I have to wimp cuss). The best thing (apart from snow in the summer and cute squirrels) is the silence. No planes, no traffic or city sounds…just SILENCE.
  2. Zion National Park: because you almost have to go there to get to the North Rim and, again, A-mazing! See great photos of it here.
  3. The Louvre: Yeah, I went but I was 15 and being dragged there by my parents. Needless to say, I was not much of an art appreciator at that time although I do remember that: 1) the Mona Lisa is a very small painting and you can’t get close enough to really see it; 2) there is no way to see all of the art here in one day; 3)we walked a long, long way from the rail station to get there; 4) I whined about all of this (sorry Mom and Dad!)
  4. The Seychelles: World’s best kept secret Eden. I want to live here, walk on the beach and wear muumuus all day! Sigh…I really hope to go back here someday.
  5. The Phyllis Haehnle Audubon Sanctuary in Michigan: Being here on a cold, foggy day and hearing thousands of Sandhill Cranes calling as they flew in to land one fall evening…prehistoric, goosebump awe-inspiring sound!
  6. The Emergence of the Magicicada Brood: A couple of years ago in lower Michigan…Zowie! A most fantastic experience to hear the deafening noise and have hundreds of them flying around you (and I got to see this with my sister, who also appreciates the magic of this insect, too). I’m including a link to this site here simply because it has a very cool clip (scroll to halfway down the page) of an emerging dog day cicada and tons of other links at the end.

OK, I’m done for now…you get the idea.

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Late Cicadas

Cicada on burdock  For the past few days, I have been finding dead or near death dog day cicadas everywhere. One in my weed patch (not dead yet), one on the mailbox (I’m feeling better…) and one on the sidewalk just yesterday (a late cicada, a cicada that has gone to meet it’s maker, it’s pushing up daisies).

I suppose most of them have mated, perhaps laid eggs and are now going on up to the giant tree root in the sky (click here to learn why). But I have also noticed these cicadas have a white fungal thingy (yes, thingy!) growing on them and I’m wondering if this is hastening their demise.

A quick search revealed a whole bunch of fungi that infect cicadas. There is a fungus called Cordyceps heteropoda, which infects an Australian species, whose by-product is being studied for possible medical use in organ transplants! Another fungus, Massospora cicadina, seems to affect only the periodical cicadas with icky results (it makes their bums fall off…”abdobums”, that is ;-). **As an aside, this is a fun, witty blog to spend some time looking through: http://hosts.cce.cornell.edu/mushroom_blog/

Basically, insects seem to suffer inordinatly from fungal attacks. In fact, there’s a whole branch of study covering this with the fancy pants name of entomopathogenic fungi.

It’s enough to make you wonder why anyone would want to eat a cicada. And yet, people do…

When I worked at a small city park many years ago, I came across a woman collecting cicada exoskeltons in a bag. She said she takes them home and fills them with a chocolate mixture, refrigerates them and then it’s chow time! According to her, she learned this from her mother who is from South America.

exoskeleton Should you have a sudden urge to whip up something with a touch of cicada, here is the cookbook for you. Please note that it is advised that you do NOT eat cicadas (for many reasons: allergic reaction possible, they soak up pesticides, your mate may never kiss you again…) but who can resist a recipe called “Cicada Tartlets”?!

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