My hometown of Sherwood Park, Canada, is the birthplace of Booster Juice: Canada’s largest smoothie bar chain. I remember approaching the counter one day after soccer practice, and seeing a curious little flat of grassy sprouts, the contents of which were being freshly juiced into 30 milliliter shots. Feeling adventurous, I sprung for a dash of this mysterious grassy green elixir in my Mango Tango smoothie, but was disappointed to find that I paid extra to make my tropical fruit blend taste like a freshly-mowed lawn.
This was my first encounter with wheatgrass.
A couple of years passed before I figured out what, exactly, wheatgrass is. The answer somewhat banal: It’s wheat, or more specifically, the monocotydedon (or embryonic leaf) of Triticum aestivum, the common wheat plant.
Periodical cicadas (Magicicada spp.) are among those insects that arrive in plagues.
Related to smaller bugs like leafhoppers, they are often mistakenly called locusts. But the similarities between cicadas and Biblically-significant pests are limited to their tendency to congregate en masse. Unlike swarming locusts—which eat everything green in times of drought—periodical cicadas descend upon deciduous trees (their preferred food source) in the eastern United States for a period of about four or six weeks, on specific years.
Divided into regionally-distinct and synchronous “broods,” different species of Magicicada emerge on either 13- or 17-year cycles; the vast majority of their lives are spent in a larval stage under the soil, sucking nutrients from tree roots.
Right now, the so-called “Brood V” of 17-year periodical cicadas has emerged in Maryland, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, right on schedule. This brood consists of three species: Magicicada cassinii, Magicicada septendecim, and Magicicada septendecula.
When I first contacted Jan Pape, the skepticism in his voice was palpable.
A farmer of domesticated American mink (Neovison vison) since 2001, he’s used to having his work sensationalized in the public sphere with some regularity. So asking to come to his farm with a Nikon in hand meant I had to build a modicum of trust.