Thursday, March 01, 2007

Just not Cricket

A South African summer is not complete without the chirrup of the crickets harmonising with frog song as the sun goes down. Outside there is a magical quality to this impromptu orchestra as the heat of the day fades and flowers release their perfumes into the cooler evening air.

When a cricket moves into your house however and serenades you up close, magic is ousted by irritation. A persistant cricket took up residence behind the backing board of our kitchen sink a few weeks ago. As he grew, his song calling for a mate got louder and louder, more and more insistant. Our supper time conversation was drowned out by his constant calling, we could still hear his cries from the bedroom at night. He liked the place he’d found, the board amplified his song with the equivalent of a bass booming woofer, he was sure to attract the most beautiful of mates if he just kept it up long enough – no thought of moving himself to search for a mate entered his head, the answer is in singing louder for longer.

Meanwhile our patience was wearing thin. I usually try to catch crickets and throw them back outside, they are harmless and only bother me when they sing too loud inside. This one however had forfeited his mercy card. It was war. Twice we spotted him emerge from his hideout to gain more freedom of expression for his yearnings, twice we thwacked at him with a dishcloth, twice he evaded us easily, went quiet for a minute and then chirruped triumphantly anew – ‘you can’t catch me, I’m the smartest cricket there is!’

We were starting to talk of borrowing a can of Doom..I don’t like insect sprays around the house poisoning our organic straw bale house and the air we breathe, but in emergencies and my husband's headache constituted one, then these chemical weapons must be considered. Before we had resorted to this desperate policy, I had another sighting of the monster. Smug and fat he sat on the top of the board, secure in his supremacy. Stealthily I possessed myself of the sandwich wrap box, took a step holds barred, it came down hard ....silence .... but no sign of a corpse. Drat! He must have slipped back under cover. The silence held. No triumphant crowing broke through the evening calm. Maybe he actually got a fright this time? An hour later, all still quiet in the kitchen, golden silence appreciated like a newly minted coin. Guilt for my crime is offset by relief that our ears are no longer constantly assaulted by a crescendo of cricket song. The outside crickets sing on, a beautiful background musical composition with the night air to absorb it.

PS If any of you in northern climes feel nostalgic for cricket song, this wonderful children's book by Eric Carle ironically named The Very Quiet Cricket, has an excellent authentic-sounding cricket electronically singing at the end of the book. The good news is that when you close the book again he is silent!


  1. Eric Carle is my daughters favorite! But we haven't come across the cricket book yet. We will put it on our list for next library visit. I did get her The Very Hungry Catapillar board game for Christmas which she enjoys.

  2. I'm glad the crucial balance between sweet background music and annoying center stage has been renewed!

    Eric Carle is so great, we have his Christmas book which also plays music; can't wait to return to the US and find this book for J.

  3. Eric Carle was a fav here too. When youngest girl was at that age every cricket had to be coddled and removed gently from the house. It has changed since....


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