Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Crickets Being Friendly

Tonight something new is happening. I am sitting in our living space in our half of a double shotgun apartment listening to crickets. And not the sound of crickets outside but underneath!!

You see houses in the deep south are built with no foundations - or rather are mounted on stilt like structures of cinder blocks or bricks. This is to facilitate as much air circulation to keep the houses cool during the heat of summer.

The fancy houses have bricked up around the bottom of the house and an ornate grill to let the air out and in. The not so fancy houses (of which is the norm in N'awlins) have nothing and it is quite possible to crawl underneath. I have no desire to crawl underneath but many creatures, I suspect, do. We certainly have heard feral cats rummaging around and been privy to their wailing mating rituals several times. I believe that tonight an errant cricket or two has decided to take a walk underneath this house and sing for its supper.

In addition to this we also have a pair of pigeons who've taken a liking to the ledge above our front door. This makes coming and going a challenge when one doesn't wish do be decorated with bird droppings. To add to this I also have inherited a severe dislike of birds - to be more precise a fear of flapping. Trafalgar Square is my idea of a nightmare so when I go to the National Gallery in London I tend to rush in and rush out to the tube as quickly as I can.

I consulted a colleague today who used to live in this apartment and he recommends putting duct tape sticky side up on the ledge to put the flying rodents off. Fingers crossed it works. Hopefully we can end their occupation before they do something foolish like have offspring!

Meanwhile I sit listening to crickets. Which reminds me of one of my favourite poems by my favourite p oet Norman MacCaig, 'Aunt Julia'. I hope my crickets are friendly too.

Aunt Julia

Aunt Julia spoke Gaelic
very loud and very fast.
I could not answer her —
I could not understand her.

She wore men's boots
when she wore any.
— I can see her strong foot,
stained with peat,
paddling with the treadle of the spinningwheel
while her right hand drew yarn
marvellously out of the air.

Hers was the only house
where I've lain at night
in a box bed, listening to
crickets being friendly.

She was buckets
and water flouncing into them.
She was winds pouring wetly
round house-ends.
She was brown eggs, black skirts
and a keeper of threepennybits
in a teapot.

Aunt Julia spoke Gaelic
very loud and very fast.
By the time I had learned
a little, she lay
silenced in the absolute black
of a sandy grave
at Luskentyre.
But I hear her still, welcoming me
with a seagull's voice
across a hundred yards
of peatscrapes and lazybeds
and getting angry, getting angry
with so many questions

1 comment:

Chris said...

Can't say I've ever had crickets under my house (I don't think they're native to Vancouver) but I do have strong memories of cicada beetles (I'm probably spelling that wrong) attached to the tent when I was camping in Ontario as a kid.

Every now and then the next day there would be the shell of the beetle left still attached to the tent as it had shed the old for the new and I'd collect them in a box.

Not sure why, but kids collect things.