Semi was tired from the long day. Preparations for winter were complete and the time to rest had come. Her prime of life had passed so she decided to relax in the sun, knowing full well she had invested her life well. It was a quiet place off the beaten path. A shrine nearby calmed her being and the shady path was inviting. Little did she know, her well earned slumber would soon be disturbed.
A light drizzle infected the day (nothing new!) but it wasn’t enough to stop me from biking to a friend’s place. The humidity seeped into my flesh, slowing my pace. Cicadas chirped their harmonies in each tree that I passed.
As I cycled to my friend’s place I came to a familiar crossroads joining a fairly busy road to a quieter pass-through. A stone bridge crossed one of the many canals that infiltrate the city. It’s a road bridge so it isn’t too fancy, at least not like the pedestrian bridges with their high arches and architectural stonework covered in moss. Beautiful nonetheless. A tight gravel path running along the canal served as a convenient back road short-cut. Recessed stone geta and a small shrine somewhat hidden by a small copse of trees marked the path entrance, and further down the path were backyard gardens.
My bicycle tires crunched on the gravelly surface. I was just thinking about the soothing Cicada song…
Suddenly, I was attacked!
The ground trembled and shook. Semi wasn’t sure what was happening. She wanted to rest. So tired. She panicked!
It came from nowhere. You never hear the one that hits you, they say. The Cicada jumped from its resting place and careened loudly into my cheek and against my ear, all the while buzzing in an otherworldly panic. The buzzing was like a rock concert too close to the speakers. I lost control of my bicycle and crashed into the stone fence that protected me from splashing into the canal five feet below. My hands and clothes were scratched up a little, along with a tinge of broken pride. None the worse for wear was I. But Semi spent her final breath.
I finally experienced first hand what a Japanese friend named Luchi calls jokingly, a semi-final. A great bi-lingual play on words! A Cicada is semi (蟬) in Japanese. If you aren’t aware of Cicadas then you soon will be if you spend summers in Japan. Their songs can be devastating to the ears but can also soothe the soul and are seen as a comforting reminder that summer is here. The Cicada life cycle lasts about a week so you will have plenty of opportunity to inspect the deceased bodies of the huge two to three inch insect. But sometimes they only appear dead. Many lie on their backs, feigning death, and lash out in one, final, burst of aerial madness. The semi-final got me good in the face, forcing me to crash into the fence protecting me from the canal. My arm got a little scratched up and my new shoes covered in mud and moss. It was a good laugh.