After three months of hiding out to escape the evil coronavirus, many of us might feel like taking after the cicadas that are now emerging from their shells throughout our region.
These remarkable insects that many people call the 17-year “locusts” — which actually are cicadas — have begun leaving their earthly hidey-holes in Southwest Virginia.
It’s a natural part of their life cycle. But for us, the humans, not so much. We’re not made to stay hidden for so long.
And once we do break out of our coronavirus-initiated exile, we surely hope to last longer than these millions of cicadas showing up in our trees and on our porches, singing loudly as they announce their arrival.
While they spend 17 years burrowed into the ground in their “nymph” stage, when they finally do emerge as adults, these cicadas are here only from four to six weeks, mainly to give them time to mate and lay eggs for the next generation.
The loud noises they make come from the males, who are trying to attract the females for mating.
After that occurs, the females lay eggs, and then the adults all disappear, their life cycles over. The next generation of adults won’t appear for 17 years, and then the cycle begins again.
As for us, we’re hoping that the end of our hiding will bring new chapters into our lives that will continue much longer than what the adult cicadas can expect.
According to a recent story by Carolyn R. Wilson in the Washington County News, the cicada is “a large, clear-winged insect with a unique alienlike hum that’s making a grand entrance throughout Virginia, especially in Washington County,” and the “large, bulgy-eyed bugs with deafening sounds have announced the arrival of spring.”
“Once the temperatures are warm, the big bugs crawl out of the ground and settle on tree branches — and porches and other structures — where they break out of their exoskeletons into adult forms,” the story noted.
But as interesting as they might be, cicadas are not really what we came to talk about.
Instead, let’s consider how we might safely leave our burrows now, after many of us have followed our governments’ advice and kept isolated to protect ourselves during the COVID-19 pandemic.
One of the most creative ways to reemerge safely was presented this week by our hometown treasure known as the Barter Theatre, whose spring 2020 season was stopped short by the pandemic.
The virus disrupted an institution that has been part of our community since 1933, during the “days of the Great Depression,” according to a recent article by Joe Tennis in the Herald Courier.
The Barter will start its season in a new and unique way by staging a performance at the long-closed Moonlite Theatre on U.S. 11/Lee Highway between Abingdon and Bristol.
Patrons will be treated to a one-act performance of “The Wizard of Oz,” starting July 14, which they can view while safely isolated from others in their own vehicles, on a stage constructed for the event, with some scenes also projected on the movie screen behind it.
The story noted that the Barter will present the show every day but Monday at the Moonlite, with a maximum of 220 cars allowed per night. Admission is $20 for adults and $10 for children.
“You can catch the magic six nights a week, Tuesday through Sunday … when the Barter Theatre troupe sings its way through a one-act performance of ‘The Wizard of Oz,’” Tennis wrote.
“And you have to credit Barter’s producing artistic director Katy Brown for spearheading this plan to put life into two theaters that remain legendary attractions along U.S. Highway 11.”
In-person shows at the actual Barter venue will have to wait for a while longer. But this puts the theater troupe back in business, at least on a limited level, and gives cooped-up people a safe way to get out and enjoy something that’s been gone from their personal repertoires for a while.
The point is that we can get some normalcy back into our lives as we join the cicadas in emerging from our shells.
We just need to make sure we’re doing it safely. And we applaud people like those who run the Barter Theatre for coming up with ways to help us achieve that goal.