Daegu in the Time of the Cicadas

Yesterday, as I was waiting for a real estate agent to pick me up, I noticed a quiet buzzing sound.  At first it was no more than a distant hiss.  As the seconds wore on, it built to a crescendo that was so loud and all-encompassing, it felt like the noise was coming from everywhere.  And yet, I couldn’t see a single reason for it.  As quickly as it arrived, it dissipated, and the air was left eerily quiet.  Disconcerting, to say the least.  It almost made me doubt my sanity.

An hour later, as I was standing outside our (hopefully) new apartment, the noise began to build again.  Self-consciously I mentioned it to the realtor, half expecting him to look at me crosswise.  He put me at ease though and haltingly told me it was “insects.”  Ahhhh, I am not crazy!  At least not the kind of crazy that gives me auditory hallucinations.  Today I finally got to see one of these cicadas.  Oh, boy.  That is a large and intimidating insect! 

I settled down to do some research.  I know I have heard of cicadas before, but have never had the pleasure (or fear!) of experiencing their song. 

But as I sat down to write this part of the post, I found myself erasing quite a bit.  Part of me wanted to do a compare and contrast essay with our experience and the cicadas (the eternal-student part).  Part of me wanted to do a scientific analysis of how they produce sound differently than any other insect (the eternal-teacher part).  And another part of me wanted to explore if they were indigenous to the region or were somehow imported by some thoughtless big-ag type business to eat up all the non-GMO crops (the hippie-activist part).

But none of those things are really what matter to me right now. (No, not even the hippie-activist part.)

Each time, as the noise of the cicadas overcomes me, I am filled with a variety of emotions.  I am awed by the volume.  I am (still) slightly disconcerted by the resonance.  I am soothed by the rhythm of it.  Somehow, though, I feel welcomed by it.  To have such an obvious and profound display of God’s creation in the midst of such an urban environment brings me great comfort.

So, I’m going to begin treating it like my very own “call to prayer.”  A moment in time to be grateful for God’s creation, for my part in it, and for our rebirth here in Daegu.


  1. I used to hate when the cicadas were in Tennessee; now, reading this, I can close my eyes and hear them which brings multiple emotions and fond memories of my childhood summers.

  2. It is a really memorable experience! I know I won’t forget it.