Monday, January 18, 2016

The Cricket Hero


Karen Nelson

Guest Speaker at Cricket Class II (students aged 2 days)

Introduction by Mrs. Aquafirma, teacher

“Children, children. Please help me welcome our speaker today, Mr. BrrrBump. I know it will be difficult for you all, but please hold on to your neighbor’s Brrr wings until Mr. Bump is finished. Mr. Bump.”

“Hi, kids! My name is BrrrBump. That is what everyone calls me because to us crickets, our chirps sound like Brrrs, and, when I Brrr, for some reason, it inspires other crickets to bump up their chirps or Brrrs louder or to a higher pitch. I don’t know why this would be. But I digress…I am here to tell you all about the Cricket Hero! I know this story from personal experience.

For crickets, the thing that gives us the most joy and passion in life is jumping (not, as some might think, Brrring). We are made for jumping and, whenever you do the thing for which you are made, joy and passion automatically follow. Brrring, simply, is how we communicate with each other. As much as we love jumping, sometimes it gets us into unseen situations. For example: a jump has been known to cause the jumper (who hasn’t looked first) to land in a large, deep body of foul smelling water (I’ve heard the word “pool” applied to this body of water by the moving-mountains who call themselves people). Crickets only know how to float in such a large and deep body of water. There’s nothing solid under us there, so we can’t get purchase from which to jump to dry ground. And, not too very long ago, I found myself in a similar situation. No, no…I didn’t land in a “pool” swamp this time. Just listen…

One lovely spring day, the temperature was perfect for jumping: not too hot and not too cold. No blustery winds. I was jumping all over the place without much concern for where I might land. That isn’t always a problem (jumping without concern), but sometimes…On this particular day, I landed on the pants leg of a moving-mountain. OMG!!! You can’t imagine my horror when I realized she was moving her “mountain” into a moving-mountain cave. These are caves the moving-mountains themselves make. This cave was not like naturally made caves. It was light and airy, made for living, not just sleeping. I didn’t know where I was or how I would get out.

“But what about the Cricket Hero??? We want to hear about the Cricket Hero!!!”, cried the cricket class two.

“Alright, alright!! I’m getting there. Chillax, youngsters!” replied BrrrBump. Mrs. Aquafirma, who didn’t appreciate the use of slang in her classroom, briefly frowned at BrrrBump. He, nevertheless, continued.

“When I jumped off the moving-mountain pants leg, I landed on what looked like tan-colored, dried grass but felt like the soft, feathery feel of dandelion tufts. My instincts kicked-in immediately causing me to freeze in place. There aren’t enough dandelion tufts in the whole world, I reasoned, to cover the entire ground of a moving-mountain cave. I was suspicious. As you know, unlike moving-mountains, crickets have a really good sense of smell in addition to really sensitive foot pads that pick up the smallest vibrations on the ground. I could easily feel the larger vibrations made from the moving-mountain as she roamed around the cave. Her vibes were larger than other vibes in the cave. I needed desperately to know who were those smaller vibes. 

Suddenly, I felt/heard a noise that sent shivers through my body from today to never: it sounded like the biggest swarm of dung beetles you could ever imagine. That noise was quickly followed by the whiff of meat protein (I was suddenly very hungry). My rumbling stomach didn’t last as it was interrupted by moving-mountain-like sounds coming down from far above my head. No sooner did I turn my head toward the source of this noise, than these four, fur-covered mini-moving-mountains came running down these tuft covered shelves. These fur balls were more like the size of rolling hills compared to the moving-mountain on whose pant leg I rode in to this cave. Nevertheless, I could tell from their scent that they were strictly meat eaters. And, that meant that I could easily become a tiny, mini-morsel, a teensy-weensy snack for any one of them. Hoping that I was too small to interest them was not a working strategy. That was a coping mechanism that allowed me to reduce my strong, fear-based temptation to jump away as far and as high as I could get. Had I given-in to that temptation, I might have attracted unwanted attention from these holy four. So, I stayed perfectly still, watching and observing them closely.

They stood together, looking up at their moving-mountain. I could perceive that their bodies vibrated intensely, perhaps in anticipation of feeding. From their individual scents, I could tell that two were mostly female while the other two were…well, all I can say is that these two were non-female, but not exactly male either. They didn’t smell enough like other, outdoor fur balls of the male persuasion. One female had long, grayish fur. She would open her mouth and make a sound almost as high in pitch as our Brrrs. I almost started laughing when I realized that her noise was from her mouth. Our’s comes from our backs where our singing apparatus lies on our bodies (our brrr wings). We would never think of communicating with the same mouth with which we eat! The other female had short, black fur except for one, partially white foot and a little white ring at the bottom of her neck. One of the males also had short, black fur. He was bigger than the rest and had no white furs. The last fur ball had short, grey and black lines of fur all over his body. I couldn’t tell if he was grey with black lines or black with grey lines. Even his tail had these lines. He seemed different than the others. When it was time for the feeding, the first three went into this other cave area while the grey-lined sat very patiently where I could still see him. He sat and sat until the other three came out lick-washing their front feet (strange since they don’t eat with their feet). Then the grey-lined went into this place where the feeding was. He didn’t vibrate nervously like the others. Later, when he was lying on the legs of the moving-mountain, he seemed to vibrate but differently. He seemed happy, kind of like how we feel when we are jumping. I don’t know about fur balls, in general, but it seems this fur ball was made for rumbling on someone’s lap! So, I’ll refer to him as Rumbler.

After a while, I was feeling famished as I could still smell the meat protein from that other cave place. Everyone seemed to be sleeping off their meal. Even the moving-mountain was either sleeping with her eyes open or was entranced by this glowing thing that had moving images on the front and people noise coming out of its sides. So, I stealthily made my way around the edges of the tuft covering on the ground. Someone once said, ‘You can observe a lot just by watching.’ I have witnessed outdoor fur balls appear to be sound asleep one second and, in the next moment, happily eating one of my cousins. It happened so fast, I could not tell you at what moment the fur ball realized there was a tiny morsel nearby. I did not want to be anyone’s tiny morsel!! So, I moved ever so slowly (without jumping) and was constantly watching for movement from the moving-mountain or the rolling fur hills! All felt calm and peaceful. There was no sign of eager curiosity on the part of the fur balls. It seemed to take forever, and my fear eventually gave way to a sense of boldness as I caused no commotion that might arouse the fur balls. I decided to risk a jump because that would get me to the other cave place faster and easier. I reasoned that the tuft covering was so soft that my landing would not be heard even by the sensitive ears of the fur balls. What I didn’t count on was that the softness of the tuft covering would limit how high and far I could jump. The zing from the jump felt so good after all that crawling. But I didn’t get nearly as far as I’d hoped. It would take two or three more jumps to get out of range of the fur balls.”

“Mr. Bump?” a young cricket piped up taking advantage of BrrrBumps’s pause. Mrs. Aquafirma started to rise from her seated position, but BrrrBump gently waved her back down.

“Yes, Shorty?” replied BrrrBump. All young crickets are called Shorty until who they are appears in their way of being. Hence Mrs. Aquafirma…HardWater: water is something everyone must have even if it’s hard!

“Can I ask you a question?” 

“I believe you just did,” replied BrrrBump with a slightly bemused look on his face. “Yes, you may ask one question. But know that this is the only question I will answer today, so make it a good one!”

“Oh, oh, okay…when you talked about the fur balls looking up at the moving-mountain, you said ‘their moving-mountain’ as if the moving-mountain belonged to the fur balls not the other way around. How did you know it was that way?” asked the youngster.

“Ah, that’s a good question, Shorty. I reasoned it was that way because the moving-mountain fed the fur balls, not the other way around!” answered BrrrBump.

“Oooooooh,” responded the entire cricket class two.

“I will continue,” said BrrrBump.

“On the fourth jump, I finally made it to that other cave place and was totally surprised! On the ground of this part, there were no more dandelion tufts. When I landed, my body made a loud ‘click!’ The ground was white, cool and smooth but hard. I don’t know exactly how to otherwise describe it. I can only further describe it by what it was not: it was not at all like the dandelion tufts; it was not soft; it had no color; it was not at all like the grainy but hard ground-covering laid down by moving-mountains; nor was it the dark brown, somewhat soft ground wherein seeds grow to flowers or grass. I quickly crawled under an outcropping of wood in case the sound of my landing aroused curiosity.

Once it was all clear and I sensed no movement vibrations, I crawled over to the place where the smell of the meat protein was strongest. There were four flat-like outgrowths from the ground (I suppose one for each fur ball) and one large high edged outgrowth next to the others. There were some very small droplets of water on the ground next to the bigger outgrowth, so I judged that this thing contained water. The others must contain the meat protein, so I leaped up onto one. Again, I clicked onto it, but it was more like a clink sound. I froze for a moment listening intensely. I could tell that on each outgrowth there were tiny pieces of meat protein left behind, so I began eagerly filling my mouth! Suddenly, I could understand the nervous energy of the fur balls before they began to eat. I was happily stuffing my face when suddenly I felt a presence. I slowly turned around and saw Rumbler watching me with brightly glowing eyes. He was not rumbling. 

I looked up at his face just in time to see his cavern of a mouth coming directly at me. Though everything I know was screaming inside me to stay frozen, I could not. I jumped as hard as I could. Right into Rumbler’s mouth!! Holy cow-dung! Sorry Mrs. Aquafirma. It is just how I felt,” commented BrrrBump trying to stave off her criticism.

“Does it have to be ‘holy’ cow dung?” asked Mrs. Aquafirma.

“Well, noooo…Yes it does. No other kind of cow dung will work!” replied BrrrBump.

“I could feel Rumbler walking around. I had landed on his foodmover which felt very rough on my footpads. It almost hurt. I thought that, for sure, I was a goner. All Rumbler had to do was use his foodmover to dump me in between his upper and lower chompers and I’d be dead. I figured, if I’m gonna die in here, I might as well do the thing for which I was made, the thing that gives me joy and passion. I started jumping as hard and as quickly as I could.
I jumped away from Rumbler’s throat chasm, near the front of his mouth. Now, I could not jump very high without hitting the top of Rumbler’s mouth. He seemed to react when I hit the top of his mouth, so I jumped harder. I could feel Rumbler running and then he stopped. An odd noise came up from his cavern. I’ve only heard this noise once before coming from an outdoor fur ball just before he expelled some unwanted stuff from his mouth. I wondered if Rumbler was going to expel me! I stopped jumping and waited. More of that noise came out and Rumbler slightly opened his mouth. I could feel some fresh air but could not get out. Then Rumbler lowered his head and opened his mouth wider. I jumped out and landed onto the tan colored, tuft-like ground. As I turned and looked at Rumbler, I thought I could feel his thoughts. I sent to him a thought of gratitude for letting me out of his cavern. He bowed his head a little more and closed his eyes in acknowledgement. He sent a thought back: even in facing certain death, you still remained true to yourself. That is amazing! I bowed down my head at that just as the moving-mountain placed a clear thing over me. A moment later Rumbler’s thought reassured me that I would be okay while a white thing slid underneath the clear covering and underneath my feet. A moment later, there was a tipping of the whole contraption with me inside it as the moving-mountain took me outdoors and set me free!

I jumped all the way home, here, to BrrrBank. I didn’t care who saw me! I was so happy, so joyful and passionate; I just had to tell everyone about Rumbler and his family. Now, you might think this is the end of the story…but as you are about to learn, youngsters, it takes more than one heroic act to become a cricket hero.

A few days later, a friend of mine, Skepticker, had to see this place for himself. This is what he told me: Early one morning, after everyone went to sleep, Skepticker climbed up the outdoor, vertical covering that housed the moving-mountain cave. He knew which one it was from my story. Up there, he squeezed his body through a crack into the moving-mountain cave. Skepticker came into the cave far above where I had been. Even so, he verified for me every description I had given from the tan-covered tufted ground covering in the original part to the white, solid ground covering in the feeding place. Solid was the word he used to describe it even though I wondered how he could discern that from where he was, about two hundred cl’s (cricket lengths) above it. Skepticker explained that he sought to climb even higher having seen fur balls jump straight up to elevations above where he was. The indoor vertical covering of the cave was somewhat rough to the touch of his foot pads so crawling up it was relatively easy.

Soon, Skepticker found himself on top of a metallic thing that held a sometimes brightly white round orb far above the fur balls and the moving-mountain. By the time he got up there, it was approaching sundown. It was a long day, and Skepticker was very tired. He decided to crawl into the white orb where, he thought, his presence would not be noticed and he’d be safe. Skepticker fell asleep almost immediately. Soon, he could be heard gently Brrring in his sleep. He only does this, I’m told (by him), when he’s really tired. Remember, the sun had ended the day and, most crickets were warming up the Brrr wings outside. Suddenly, the white orb became very, very bright…blindingly so. Skepticker awoke with a start and had to take a moment to recall just where he was. He said that he thought he’d jumped so high that he’d landed on the sun on the other side of never! He looked around as best he could and remembered that he was inside a white orb. He hadn’t realized that inside that orb was another, whiter, brighter orb and it was getting hot.

Skepticker started jumping all around trying to find the opening. Then he heard this high pitched noise directly underneath the white outer orb. He stopped jumping and listened. It was getting too hot anyway. He had seen outdoor fur balls almost chirping (not Brrring) at fly-chirps jumping around from one tree branch to another before flying away. This sound was almost like that. Like a fur ball trying to sound like a fly-chirp. Skepticker wondered if this was Rumbler. He tried calling to him. The fur ball noise stopped then started again. A bigger than fur ball vibration came near, then the inner orb stopped glowing. Skepticker said it started cooling down pretty quickly, but he was so very tired. The next thing he noticed (after a brief sleep) was the outer white orb being moved and tipped over. Skepticker fell out and into a clear cylinder-like thing with a small bit of water at the bottom. He needed that water. As he was drinking, something covered the top of the cylinder locking him inside. He didn’t care. He was too busy looking around the moving-mountain cave. Then he saw what could only have been Rumbler sitting quietly and staring at Skepticker.

The fur ball wasn’t rumbling. Skepticker sent a thought to Rumbler asking if it had been he who was chirping. Rumbler indicated that it was. He knew it was getting too hot in the white orb. The moving-mountain saw what Rumbler saw and took off the orb. Now it was Skepticker’s turn to be saved and freed. When Skepticker made it back to BrrrBank, all adult crickets unanimously agreed that Rumbler was the Cricket Hero. The crickets of BrrrBank have serenaded the Cricket Hero ever since:

The Cricket Hero is our friend
He saved and freed two VICs
(Very Important Crickets)
For, if one saves two of us,
That one saves us all
Especially when it’s from
A mortal enemy like a
Very hungry fur ball!

BrrrBump and Skepticker
Went into the lion’s den
Where Cricket Hero, Rumbler,
Saved us from the 
Moving-mountain cave,
Himself and others 
Nor would he allow us
To be enslaved


Rumbler, Rumbler, Rumbler
Rumbler is the best
Rumbling from deep down
Inside of his chest
Where the heart sings 
No matter what
Rumbler, Rumbler, Rumbler
You are the very best!

Author’s Note: This story is based on two actual events wherein Rumbler (also known as Bonker) saved two crickets in exactly the way described above.

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