For a while there, I was afraid I was going to have to go full hazmat. A rubber body suit, with face shield, gloves and steel-toe boots. Never mind the coronavirus pandemic - the Great Neighborhood Cicada Crisis of 2021 seemed to call for complete head-to-toe protection. A hazmat suit may sound extreme, but so are swarming cicadas. If I had had such a suit handy last week, I might have crammed my well-rounded frame into it to walk ODJ, Ornery Dog Jasper. That would have given the neighbors something to talk about. As it is now, the cicadas from Brood X, the largest and most impressive of the cicada swarms that periodically emerge in force in the eastern U.S., seem to have reached their peak in my neighborhood. Although there are still plenty hanging out in the tree that shades the stoop, they've begun dying off. There doesn't seem to be as many looking for love, making the need for full body protection somewhat less urgent. Walking ODJ through the neighborhood last week, t
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No one has asked but I'm going to answer the question anyway. The image I'm using as a header here was created by Porte Crayon, otherwise known as David Hunter Strother. Here it is in full: The above is an image of a woodcut illustration that Strother included in his 1850s travelogue "Virginia Illustrated". It depicts the Natural Chimneys, a limestone landmark in Augusta County, Virginia also known as the Cyclopean Towers. Notwithstanding the caption, I decided to crop it and use it as my header here and on my other social media accounts because Porte also looks like he's reading from a script, which dovetails nicely with what I do as a newscaster for NPR. He was also from Martinsburg, in what is now West Virginia, where I've lived since 2004. Pretty sure it's safe to say that most Americans today have never heard of Porte Crayon, but he was a rock star before the Civil War, the Bill Bryson of his era. He was so popular that when the war broke out the
HELP! I'm looking for a particular waterfall in Tucker County. Also, have you noticed all the cicadas?
Cicadas. They finally made it to my neighborhood. Then again, I guess they were always here, lurking for years just beneath the surface, waiting among the roots of trees in their untold numbers for their day in the sun - to shrug off their carapace, grow up, and keel over dead after having a few kids who will head back down to earth to start the cycle again. The swarm that wrapped the stoop in a steady, buzz saw wall of sound this week weren't that evident when my wife and I left for a getaway to Asheville, North Carolina. But they clearly began emerging even as my wife happily made friends with the alpacas and goats that live next door to the tiny Airbnb house we had booked for the weekend. We also did some hiking in the mountains around Asheville, had lunch with my old friend Sheryl (a longtime Ashevillian) and toured the Biltmore Estate, a retreat for the 1% if there ever was one. Too much to take care of, if you ask me. Our visit to Asheville was our first trip away fr