Counting Cicadas: Naptime in the South of France

Counting Cicadas: Naptime in the South of France

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Cicada souvenirs in Provence

 

In celebration of summer’s solstice, the cicadas are out shaking their Mexican “maracas.”

Zetzetzetzetzet,” they chant, in a land where even insects sport French accents. My mom calls the trilly ones “katydids.” “Katy whats?” I have to look up the term before realizing that Mom has mistaken the cigales for “bush crickets.”

Zetzetzet! Zetzetzet! They don’t sound like crickets to me; theirs is a chirp more deadening. Zetzetzetzet! Zetzetzetzet!

I have a mind to tell those cricket-cigales that, here in France, it’s naptime! L’heure de la sieste! But then, who can sleep in this kind of heat?

In this kind of heat my kids have thought up ways to cool down. They root through the recycle bin in search of plastic bottles which they fill at the garden tap before chasing each other around the yard to splash (then dash!).

Aïe, aïe, aïe!” they cry, as they sprint in their swimsuits across the parched pelouse, stiff blades poking their sensitive feet. Dousing each other with the newly-bottled water, they dance beneath the faux raindrops. What a way to ward off summertime heat.

Zetzetzetzetzet!!
Aïe aïe aïe!!

Zetzetzet!
Aïe aïe!
“Zet!”

Not far from the action, just beyond an open window, its wooden shutters fastened tight to keep out the sunlight, I toss and turn, listening to the kids and the so called “katydids.” The racket keeps me riled up… until I focus on the beat….

Finally, it is a welcome change from counting sheep.

French Vocabulary

la cigale = cicada
la chaleur = heat
la bouteille = bottle
L’heure de la sieste! = naptime
aïe = ow!
la pelouse = lawn

Kristin Espinasse is the author of Blossoming in Provence (below) and her blog, French Word-A-Day, began in 2002. She photographs the villages around her wine farm in Provence, where she lives with two Goldens, a Marseillais, and their Franco-American kids.

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