Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Fireflies, Cicadas and Humidity- Hello Texas!


I have lived in Texas for nine weeks. I have been nesting here in my new home for almost six weeks. (The first 3 weeks were spent at our son and daughter-in-law's home. Thanks kids!) This born and bred California girl has been enthralled with some beautiful firsts

My only previous experience with fireflies or lightening bugs was on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyland! Tiny pulsating lights hanging from a dark ceiling do not do justice to the SIMPLE MAGIC of real fireflies! 

OH MY GOODNESS! Fireflies are not flies at all. They are a species of beetle with BUTTS THAT LIGHT UP to communicate with the opposite sex! Come on! God must have been having a silly sorta day when this idea came up. The male firefly cruises around flashing a specific pattern to announce his availability to mate. An interested female will reply with the same pattern so that he can find her. 

An early form of texting? But beware the habit of some female fireflies that will flash back a matching signal in order to entice the male of a different subspecies in...and then the "femme fatale firefly" will eat him! 

There are even two places in the world where a mass SYNCHRONIZED flashing occurs; Southeast Asia and Smokey Mountain National Park here in the U.S. in the late spring. Don't want to speculate on what's happening there! 

My first lightening bug sighting was in Writer Son and Sassy Bride's backyard during the first few nights we were here in Texas. I literally jumped up and clapped my hands! MAGICAL I tell you! I loved sitting out there every evening watching them. Butts that light up! Is that a goofy creation or what? 

Another fascinating first for me has been hearing the sound of cicadas in the trees. Wow! I have read many novels full of descriptions that include "the song of the cicadas" and in my mind I just translated it to the sound of crickets at night. But no, this is totally a different "song"! 

As I tried to describe it to Rocker Son who still lives in California, I said that it sounds like hundreds of rattlesnakes in the trees shaking their tails in warning. Not a pleasant picture at all, but still pretty accurate in my opinion. It is an amazing sound that just fills the air at certain intervals. It was nearly constant in our first weeks here. 

Now I hear them in the trees behind our house, but it stops and starts with crazy abruptness. How do they all know when to stop? Is it even a lot of cicadas or can just one or two make such a big sound? I have no idea. I DO know that they are not a pretty creature....but neither are fireflies. Except for their butts that light up. That still makes me giggle!

The third FIRST for me has been the opposite of a beautiful first as mentioned in the first paragraph. The humidity here in Texas caught me off guard. Yes, everyone told me about it...but I did not believe it. I have spent time in Fiji and in the Philippines. Both have very high humidity. The thick moisture in the air in Fiji caused men and women to tuck dirty "sweat rags" in their waistbands in order to dry their faces off every once in a while. I now have a small collection of hankies in my purse at all times! 

I am still stubborn (and old) enough to continue to put on make-up when I leave the house.  But I am not sure why I do this. It melts within minutes, especially when I am getting into a hot car. I get in and FRANTICALLY start hitting buttons and directing the air conditioning at my face! 

I remember entertaining visitors in California from out of state and they would talk about how our heat was a "dry heat". NOW I GET IT! Texas has an extremely WET HEAT! The numbers on the temperature gauge or the weather man's chart mean nothing without considering the humidity that accompanies it. We had tons of 100 degree days in Cali that are NOTHING like a 100 degree day here! NOTHING! In my former town we had heat-waves each summer that reached 116! BUT IT WAS A DRY HEAT!! I so get it now. 

But I am becoming accustomed to it. Really I am. Now I know the secret. Texas is not an outdoorsy kind of lifestyle. It can't be...at least not in the middle of the day. We hop from our air-conditioned homes to our air-conditioned cars to the air-conditioned stores. Otherwise everyone waits until evening to hang around outside. The Hubs and I have an old habit of sitting outside in the early morning hours and again at night. We did it in California and it works perfectly here in Texas. 

So the Texas education of this California girl continues. Fireflies, cicadas and humidity were the first lessons. After only 9 weeks here, I have much to learn. But it feels full of promise and new possibility. Still don't care for guns or football and I seriously doubt THAT is ever going to change. I have found that people are people no matter what state or country you call home. Kind people, mean people, gentle people and harsh people...every flavor can be found everywhere. Small town or big city, we figure out ways to live together and look for the good in one another. 

At least that's what I plan to do. 

And I hope to jump up and down clapping every single time I see a firefly flashing it's butt. (Speaking of jumping up and down....I also "met" fire ants for the first time too! More about that next time.) 

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  1. Susie,

    FABulous post! I would have just LOVED to have seen your face when you saw your first lightening bug (that's how we refer to them here in NJ) and heard the cicadas for the first time! It's like God gave you another go 'round at being a little girl again, allowing you to experience more of His wonders with the delight of a child. Wow! I hear you on the humidity, too. NJ is nicknamed 'The Garden State,' but I think it should be sub-nicknamed (yes, I just made up a new word!) 'The Land of Humidity.' Back in the early 80s, I was privileged to be able to take a trip out to CA, and let me tell you -- it was literally THRILLING to be able to be outside in the heat there without immediately being drenched with heavy sweat like I was used to at home.

    Can't wait to hear about the fire ants. They are truly little horrors. Sorry you have to deal with them, but I'm happy to hear that you're settling in deep in the heart of Texas, my dear.

    1. Thanks Pam. It has been an eye opening experience, that's for sure! I am enjoying Texas more than I expected on so many levels. Feels like God tricked me into moving out of desperation but then landed me in a place that is so interesting!

  2. I love fireflies which we saw when we camped around the USA, and which I don't see here in California. But I would not trade our climate in California for the humidity you describe. I look forward to hearing about your Texas adventures.

    1. I know! I do miss my beloved California's weather, that is for sure. But thankfully, the humidity comes and goes with the seasons and daily as a matter of fact. So that is reassuring to discover!

  3. As Pam mentioned, we've got lightening bugs, cicadas, and plenty of humidity here in NJ (we only live a few minutes apart, or at least we did til my move - now it's more like 15-20 minutes :) BUT - I loved reading how you discovered them because we take all of that for granted (well, minus the humidity - we'd like to give that away!). You helped me think about those things with renewed wonder and a fresh set of eyes - so cool! Thanks for helping us explore Texas along with you!!

    1. Yay, I am glad my newbie discoveries are reminding you of the beautiful bits of our world....no matter where we live!

  4. This is so refreshingly YOU. The Susie I first "fell in love with" when you wrote about your little butterfly tattoo, among other wonderful and thrilling events in your life. I love seeing Texas through your eyes. I live in Florida, just across the gulf, and humidity has always been a way of life here. Thank the good Lord for the person who invented air conditioning. We didn't have it when I was growing up, and the frizzy hair, mildewed shoes, bugs, lizards, snakes, mosquitoes, etc. were all a part of life. Fireflies are not as common in Florida, but I did see them for a little while back in June. I love your description of them. Never thought about them quite that way before, and I will always look at them a bit differently from now on! I'm so happy that you're so happy. Someday I'm coming out to see it for real right there with you...so be prepared! This was great.

    1. Pam, this comment brings tears to my eyes. They seem to be coming easily today for some reason. I was just about to write a short impromptu post about crying in my pool, when I came to read the new comments first. My heart is just so full! I am glad that the "happy susie" is back too. Love you dear friend.

  5. Wow! Such an interesting introduction to Texas. When I read through the things you had encountered, I missed the Diamond-Back Rattlesnakes — big as a man's arm. I guess you haven't met them yet. Which is good.

    Oh, yes; the lure of the country. Well, country for us up here. Don't see many of those things here in the city. Sadly.

    Hope you all keep acclimatizing to life in Texas. I suppose the swimming pool helps.

    Blessings and Bear hugs!

    1. Rob-bear, you have no idea how important this swimming pool is to me and our ability to adjust to so many big changes in our life! God knows me so well!

  6. Oh goodness- I bet you can write an entire post about those nasty fire ants! Texas sent them our way (Ar) and I wish they would move on out of here! Have a blessed week.

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