22 June 2008

Cicadas alive and singing

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I just cannot remember the last time I heard cicadas singing in urban areas in Taiwan. In Keelung, the harbour town where I was born and brought up, cicadas used to strike up their reverberating chorus, celebrating the arrival of summer. In Taichung, the sun-drenched city where I spent three years in senior high school, their thunderous songs helped me stay awake in numerous soporific classes when days became longer. However, in Taipei, the capital where I live now, they seem to disappear in summer.

I once thought cicadas were all killed and extinct in Taipei. But fortunately, they are actually all alive and singing, though not in the city centre.

Fanne and I went hiking at Elephant Mountain (象山 Xiangshan, not a mountain indeed, just a 183-metre-high hill) yesterday afternoon. Surprisingly, virtually just a stone's throw away from Taiepi 101, the so-far-tallest building in the world, we heard an exciting hubbub of cicada singing, the nostalgic noise which once resounded countless summer days and nights in my childhood and adolescent years.

It was absolutely stunning. These tiny critters, with their amazing acoustic talents, worked together to form a sound backdrop which would require hundreds of buzz saws and Egyptian mizmars operating simultaneously to produce in a studio.

Ear-piercing as cicada song was, in the hill we went on basking in the unforgettable sound of summer.

Hence, it turns out that in Taipei, the capital where I live now, cicadas are still chorusing in the hills in summertime, looking towards the city centre.

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