The Cicada Shells

As a youngster I was an enormous nature lover – I spent most of my days looking under fallen leaves for beetles and breeding tadpoles every rainy season – so it’s no surprise that Harry Butler was one of my childhood idols. I believed he was magical because every rock or branch he turned over revealed an animal of some kind. I wanted to be just like Harry and never missed his show, In the Wild with Harry Butler.

One day my dad and I were in our backyard when he called me over and pointed to a small creature attached to a tree. It was hideous. It looked like a cross between a tarantula and a naked mole rat.

cicada in tree

To my surprise, my dad pulled it from the tree and held it out to me, as though I was supposed put my hand out to hold it. I looked at him like he was about to set me on fire and let him know, in no uncertain terms, that I would not be touching it anytime soon.

cicada shell

My dad tried to convince me that it was harmless, that it wasn’t even alive and was, in fact, just a shell. But it was the creepiest thing I had ever seen and I refused to go near it. I didn’t believe it was just a shell; I thought it was alive and perfectly capable of biting off one of my fingers.

After many minutes of trying to convince me of its harmlessness my dad gave me a choice: I could either hold the cicada shell or I wouldn’t get to watch Harry Butler that night. I was devastated – it was like Sophie’s Choice!

I thought about how repulsive the cicada shell was and how much I loved Harry Butler. I cried and pleaded with him, but he was resolute. I came to the conclusion that my dad was the meanest dad alive.

Harry Butler

My love for Harry was so strong that eventually I closed my eyes, held out my hand and waited for my dad to drop the repulsive creature in it. Suddenly, I felt the lightest touch on my palm, it was like a feather. I opened my eyes and took a closer look – it really was just a shell! I was instantly fascinated. From that moment on I was the cicada queen (and I got to watch Harry that night).

Not only was I no longer scared of cicada shells, I would seek out the live nymphs, put them on my shirt and let them hatch on me. I would then wear the empty shells on my clothes like badges. Cicadas were the most fascinating creatures I’d ever encountered.

cicada shirt

One day I found an unusually large amount of cicada shells on a tree in our front yard and instantly had an idea.

cicada tree

bucket

 

door1

 

door2

 

door3

 

mum

Dad, thanks for making me hold the cicada shell. Mum, you can blame dad for that one!