What are those tiny birds?

Dug (our dog) loves to explore. He’s mostly hound dog—either beagle or Basset—with a bit of corgi, all nose and not much leg. We walk with him for hours each day. Ron spends the most time doing that. They drive to a parking lot near the bike path and walk trails along the river. I tend to walk in neighborhoods near our house.

One of his favorite spaces to roam is the 40-acre Methodist Children’s Home in Worthington. Bordering High Street, the property includes a nursing home along with the regional office and conference center of the Methodist Church. Behind those are open fields and abandoned dorms, classroom and office buildings, and a chapel. They’re overgrown, falling into decay while the local community (and city council) discuss how the space might be used. I’m hoping for an official park, but there’s a debate between that and retail. (I assume office buildings are off the table now that the coronavirus is showing everyone how to work from home.)

Dug loves it. There’s a city of groundhogs, and he knows their tunnel network. He checks each opening every trip. When he spots a groundhog, the chase is on! He yelps and howls, sprints after them, and pulls me along. On previous trips, I’ve wiped out, face first in the dirt, dropped my phone, lost my hat. For the most part, though, I can hang on, run with him, usually shouting, “Slow! Slow!” He pretends not to hear me. Teenagers.

One 93-degree day last September, I drove him the half-mile to the property. With his thick fur, I wanted to limit his time in the sun. Everything was still. No movement from the ground. We abandoned the groundhog network and crossed the driveway to an old “family and career center” building. We went around to the back and down a slope toward the edge of a ravine, through calf-high grass under 40-foot trees. I gazed up and saw an unusual flock of tiny birds darting through the branches.

I stopped and stared.

Not birds. Cicadas. Huge cicadas. Hundreds of huge cicadas.

A chill ran down my neck, into my back and goosebumps made the hair on my arm stand up. I began to pray, “Please God don’t let one of them land on me. I will crap my pants and collapse, or worse, and I have to take care of Dug.”

I whispered, “Come on, Dug. We have to go. We have to move. Now. Now. Let’s go. Come on, come on, come on.”

He was sniffing and quite unaware of the danger from the sky. I pulled. I was afraid to look up. What if they’re creatures that can sense fear and they land on me? He stopped to sniff. “Now, now, now, now. Go, go, go.” I coaxed and pulled a little harder. He began to move.

We made it around the building, across the driveway and into the open and cicada-free field. My heart pounded so hard I felt dizzy, but we had made it. They didn’t follow us.

And then I thought­–we’re buying 65 acres of woods in Hocking Hills. I am afraid of bugs. This is going to be really interesting.

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