Recently, I woke up to an email from my dad -- a notorious morning person like me -- full of pictures of a cicada that he'd just caught hatching from its shell up in the back paddock behind our house.
After that, I was pretty stoked for the rest of the day -- I started looking forward to hearing a sound that I usually hate: that ear-piercing buzz-saw whine that emanates from the eucalypt forest behind my parents' house. It's a sound that seems to swell and pulsate with the midday summer heat. It's a sound that means I'm sitting in the kitchen of my home, or that I'm on the back verandah surrounded by family. It means Christmas and catching up with school friends and swimming in the creek and going to the bush races on Boxing Day. It's sunburn, fresh fish, dad's scotch and mum's flower arrangements.
And also, those photos that dad sent me, they reminded me of the overwhelming excitement I always felt when I caught a cicada hatching on a fence post. It's kind of rare to see them in their wingless, ground-dwelling incarnation. It's a weird moment to see them crack out of their old shell, wings wet and furled and pale and vulnerable, but knowing exactly what they need to do to join the other cicadas in the air. Whenever I witnessed one of these emergences, I would always race down to the shed to tell my dad. And it's a kind cool thing that now, even though I live half a continent away, he can share these little things from home with me.