Recently as I was taking a walk around my neighborhood, I couldn’t help but notice how quiet it was. There were no bugs buzzing along. There were no birds singing in the trees. All I could hear were my own footsteps in the crunching dead leaves. It was kind of eerie, but it made me want to know more about this music that I was missing out on.
Animals and insects make noises for a number of reasons and in a few different ways. I had always known that birds sang to attract a mate, but I learned that they also sing to be territorial. Many of the songs are sung towards birds of the same species letting them know that this area is already spoken for. Also, since most of the singing is done to attract a female or by the protector, if you hear a bird singing, you’re probably hearing a male. Females do sing, but they sing shorter chirps while males sing the long songs we are more familiar with.
A less pleasant noise, but one I’m used to hearing all summer long is the cicada. Cicadas make noise for the common reason of mating, but they do it much differently than us or birds. Male cicadas have sound boxes in their abdomens. They make their sound by expanding and contracting a membrane called a tymbal. Another fun fact that you probably subconsciously thought but never knew is that the hotter the day, the louder the male cicadas make their sounds. As I said, male cicadas make noises for mating, but they’re not all meant to be luring a partner. Male cicadas make a mating call, but they also make an encounter call which is made after the female agrees to mate, and finally they also have a call to signal they want to be alone. Even cicadas can’t want to mate all the time.
During the summer, another common sound on my walks are crickets chirping. Now in the cold months, they’re nowhere to be seen (or heard). Crickets chirp for the usual reason… attracting a mate, but their “music” is a bit strange. First of all, crickets don’t sing with their voices like humans or birds, they make their noise by rubbing their leathery front wings together. The speed at which the cricket chirps each chirp differs between species but is also affected by the temperature. Female crickets will walk or fly to these loud males, but first the female crickets have to hear these chirps, and do you know how all crickets hear? They have ears on their FRONT LEGS!
All of this thinking of the noises of nature (especially so close to Christmas) makes me thinks of the lyrics to “Joy to the World”.
Joy to the world, the Lord is come.
Let Earth receive her king.
Let every heart prepare him room and
HEAVEN AND NATURE SING…
This week of Advent and the season of Christmas are a time of such JOY and it should just be bursting out of us. We, as a part of all of nature are to be singing our joy, singing our praise of the God who gave us all that we are joyful about.
As I said earlier, nature isn’t doing a lot of singing right now. It is pretty quiet. That means you and I have to pick up their slack. You and I need to be singing God’s praises, singing our joy all the time. The season helps since there is beautiful Christmas music playing almost everywhere you go. Simply sing along, especially if it’s a religious song like “Away in a Manger” or “The First Noel”. I know it’s a secular movie, but the quote from Elf just seems so fitting for this blog: “The best way to spread Christmas cheer (or joy) is singing loud for all to hear.” I hope that each and every one of us will choose to spread the joy of this season with everyone we encounter. There are so many amazing things in this world that can bring us joy.