Posted by: yoko | June 7, 2004

Words From Childhood 2.9

Today’s word: semi

Semi means cicada, an insect Fairwitness loves. When I was a kid, I was fascinated by cicadas– their rustling mating sound meant the beginning of summer for me, and I looked for their molted shells that clung to the trees.

I remember one time, when some family friends came over to our house for an outdoor dinner in our backyard. The young boy, who was around four years old, spied a cicada on ground. He was mesmerized by the large insect, yet also scared. “Mushi!” (insect!) he cried, pointing to the cicada, shaking slightly. His mother crouched behind him and held him. “Semi,” she explained. He was not convinced. “Mushi!” he repeated, almost on the verge of tears. This went on a couple more times, and then the cicada flew away and the boy calmed down.

Around that time, or maybe the summer after, I started collecting cicada shells in jars. My sister, one of our cousins who was visiting from Japan, and I were the Club of the Locust Union, or CLU for short. Now, cicadas and locusts are not the same insect, but I liked chanting, “CLU! CLU! CLU CLU CLU!” so the name stuck. At the beginning of our formation as a club, we must’ve collected a couple hundred shells at least, scraping off the shells from tree trunks and branches with long sticks. At the end of the summer, we emptied the jars under the club fir tree and stomped on the shells, returning them to the earth.

The club lasted for a few summers, with just my sister and me after my cousin returned to Japan. I still like cicadas.



  1. semi? wow. i wonder why.

  2. sigh. i love cicadas. not so much the sight of, but rather the sound of. makes me think of dusk and falling asleep when i was wee.

  3. What’s the Cure song that starts with the sounds of cicadas? I like that song….

  4. i’m not sure, Snacks. anyone know the answer to that?

  5. I do love occultish childhood rituals. We had some involving worms back in the day that I just cannot go into here, it will make me tingly and I might fall over.


%d bloggers like this: