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  • Writer's picturePayton Pan

Preserving Time with Brood X

As a resident of Maryland, I live with periodical cicadas on a 17 year cycle. During their last visit, I was quite a different person. In fact, I was a baby in a onesie that read, “Next time the cicadas come, I’ll be driving.”

And I don’t even know where in the world I’ll be when they come around next time, or what life will have thrown at me. It’s crazy to think about, but before getting too philosophical, let’s shift our focus to the present and Brood X.

While writing this, my backyard sounds like an ocean of alien moans and wails. Waves of the cicada mating call are erupting in a show of intense volume, calling more than just mates; Everything from birds to fish to my dog is getting a once-in-a-lifetime feast. And since this buffet won’t come back for another 17 years, I had to find a way to immortalize Brood X.

Instead of saving jars full to feed my dog at a later date, I found a much more cicada-friendly way to do this: photography. To me, this art form is so rewarding because it allows us to preserve time. Generations to come will have a deeper connection to historical events like the March on Washington or the Berlin Wall simply because they can be seen. Because of photos, I can look at myself as a baby, and many years from now I may find solace in seeing myself as a teenager. This spring, I put to work the ability of a camera to preserve events and emotions, and in so doing, I have saved Brood X for the years to come.

To see the full cicada collection, visit

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