Farm Update- 17 Long Years (Cicada Song)

This is starting out as an interesting season. It’s probably been about two weeks since I’ve told customers “these are the last strawberries of the season”, but then the fruit resets on the plants and we get another picking. I think they are arguably even getting better. In fact we have more than tripled our harvest from last year without planting any additional plants. People are asking what our secret is. In all honesty I think the plants overheard us talking about pulling them out and throwing in the towel after a late frost wiped out our initial crop. It kind of reminds me of being broken down in Ohio on a road trip about twenty years ago in my black Jetta. The mechanic told me the repair would take at least a week and would cost more than the car was worth. As my companion and I discussed the notion of ditching the car it miraculously came back to life and drove us all the way home. I’m guessing strawberries will wrap up by the end of the weekend but who knows.

Speaking of black Jettas and red strawberries that’s the same color scheme as our Brood X cicadas this summer. I realize for most they have perhaps outstayed their welcome. Personally I can’t help but feel a sense of solidarity in that we are all emerging this summer. After our pandemic year of quarantine, resurfacing toward normal gives us and the cicadas something in common. A question I keep getting is how do they impact the crops. Since this is our first Brood X experience since farming we will have to wait and see, but the funny thing is I think they are actually beneficial to the farm. They are not really bothering any of our crops and what I’m hearing is that as they die off they will provide an organic form of slow release nitrogen into the soil. Free organic nitrogen! How awesome is that?

I’ve actually got this strange affinity with the Brood X cicadas since 17 years ago at their peak my oldest was born. To me they are actually a reminder of one of the most joyous times in my life. I clearly remember months earlier listening to a story on NPR about them. After doing some quick math I realized that I was also born during a different year of the cicada. Back then I was doing more songwriting and performing and had this funny idea of writing a song from the cicada’s perspective about what it feels like to spend 17 long years underground then emerge drunk on life. I envisioned the cicadas as these leather clad biker punks like little mini Marlon Brandos from the Wild Bunch superimposed with “Zorba’s Dance” because I’d been to Greece that year where that melody exuded from every taverna and street musician and seemed to symbolize living life in the moment. Zorba’s Dance has this unique feature exemplified by Anthony Quinn in the film in that it starts low and slow then builds in speed and volume until it peaks in some crazed frenzy. I pictured this crescendo of cicadas. I even went out and found a black leather biker helmut which I proceeded to paint Brood X with White Out across the front and some red steampunk goggles to get into character while performing it. Since then the lyrics have been revised and have become a sort of public service announcement for the little buggers. Granted I don’t play this song often (about every 17 years), so I’d like to share it with our Norman’s Farm Market community. Enjoy.

Check out the originial 2004 version…

Performed at Guitars & Goats in 2013

…or the 2021 version…

John Norman