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My Colorful Childhood(1): Cicada Capturing [Copy link] 中文

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Post time 2007-6-29 14:28:38 |Display all floors
When I was a little boy, our economical condition was very backward and our parents were always worrying about where was the next meal coming from. They cherished and begrudged every penny. Therefore, no one in our town had such a lavish idea as to buy a toy for his or her child.

However, the curiosity and toy playing were our children’s born nature, no matter we were from the rich or the poor. To self-support our toys, we had to turn to the nature instead of pestering parents. Of course, our various toys were not the dolls from department stores but some brilliant and exquisite insects from woods.

1) Cicada Capturing

At that time, Dong Shan Maintain seemed to be much higher, because there were dozen of hundred-years-old maples with 30 to 40 meters height growing on its top. Their trunks were so huge that even several children could not embrace them hand in hand. With their ever flourishing and vigorous leaves and branches, the trees erected Dong Shan’s figure by more than 30 meters.

In the early morning or immediately after a thunderstorm in summer, some amber and sticky syrup with pleasing smell would come out from their barks.
The syrup was most welcome by our children.
Every morning, we were dashing to the top and collecting the syrup with an empty inkbottle for two major reasons.

One was for medical use.
When a child suffered a boil, syrup was the best herb prescription. Drop some syrup on a maple leaf; put it on the affected part, shortly after a few days, the lump would disappear without any scar left.

The second function was for cicada capturing.
The cicada is known as “Beewoolee” in our local dialect. It was one of our most popular toys. Holding in a child’s palm or tired by a length of thread, “Beewoo , Beewoo…… “ it would constantly sing and fly. Its dark and shining body covered by its thin and transparent wings, like a black beauty after her bathing, always arose children’s surging imagination.
Therefore, to capture a cicada, the wonderful free toy, was our children’s dream and made us spare no effort.

Cicada was a sort of most alert insects. It always perched on the top of the trees. As soon as any sign of disturbance or trouble occurred, it would fly away immediately.
Therefore, it was our common practice, that after a hard journey, when we managed to reach a cicada, we would certainly be disappointed by its escaping in inches.
However, adhibition proved to be a most effective way for cicada hunting. Put some syrup on the top of a bamboo pole, approach to a singing cicada, after a miserable fluttering, the optimistic angle immediately became a prison on naughty boy’s hand.  
As if were on a royal fete-day, we would be shouting and gamboling all the way to celebrate this significant achievement.

Since the syrup in Dong Shan Maintain was very limited, we had to find another substitute.
The bark of the willow was the best stuff for another adhering glue making. We sometimes went to the bank of Shi Hu Lake and peeled off a piece of willow bark, then, mashed it down and washed in the water. The bark residues were washed away and a clot of glue left. This was the exactly what we wanted.
(To be continued)

[ Last edited by wenzili at 2007-6-29 02:31 PM ]

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Post time 2007-6-29 14:31:09 |Display all floors
2) Bullfighting without Matador
Other than cicada, another kind of insect known as Long-Horned Beetle was also very popular to us.

We divided them into four types:
The first one is “cow”, since the children in our hometown considered it looked like a farming cow.

The adult “cow” is about one and a half inches long. Its body is covered by fine and dark brown hair. It has a funny looking head where there are two long gnarled antennae, and a pair of huge dark eye rims. Without eyeballs, the eye rims look like wearing a pair of blinders. Close to the eyes, are two pieces of inward bending tusks.

My buddies regarded the antennae as horns. However, I was always doubtful, since there isn’t any cow had such long horns. In my opinion, they looked more like the feather decoration on the warrior’s head in Peking Opera. Anyway, I still followed them and called the beetles as “cow”.

“Cow” is a pugnacious creature. It always gestured as a fighting bull by lowering its long horned head. Its sharp tusks also seemed to be ready to snap something close. We liked it but in the mean time scared of it too.

Our most popular activity was to have a “bullfight” competition. In “bullring”, their serious look and fierce fighting always made us laugh to tears.
The second type is known as “buffalo”, which frequently inhabits at the top of the willow and accompanies by cicada.
Its shape and size are similar to “cow”, but has no hair. Its color is shining black with a dozen white spots on the elytra, which looks like being sprinkled by white paint.
Comparing to the “cow”, “buffalo” is much tardier and easier to catch.
Sometimes, we managed to reach the top of a tree and picked them up by bare hand.
Once we caught some, for safety reason, we had to hold their antennae and tie their necks with threads.
Unlike the “cows”, “ buffalos” seldom fight. We could only have the fun by driving them to fly or herding them in a portable willow twig.
The third type of the beetle is so-called “calf”.
Calf is similar to the “buffalo” but much smaller, at a length of about 19 minimeters.
Calves always gather on the back of ramie leaves.
Comparing to others, to get them was just a piece of cake. Since the size was too small, we had no way to tie them up and had to put them together into an empty inkbottle. Fed with a piece of the ramie leaf, they might survive for a couple of days.

The fourth one is known as “red bull”. Its shape looks like the “buffalo” too, except for its red neck, just like wearing a red scarf.

It has a strong and terrible smell, which makes people sick. Therefore, no one dares to touch it.

Usually, it can be found on peach twig.
Without natural enemy, it always has its good time to enjoy itself among the luscious fruits.

1) I would'like to present my sincere thanks to Mr. Tang in HK, who keeps giving me warm-heart help for grammar and wording checking!
2) For picture reference pls. Link to: ... 725B%u79D1||20|0|2|細天牛族

[ Last edited by wenzili at 2007-7-2 02:05 PM ]

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Post time 2007-6-29 14:42:35 |Display all floors
3) Mercy to the Rose Chafers

Rose chafer or cockchafer is a charming insect with metallic shining colors. Its tiny head is completely out of proportion to its clumsy body. For unknown reason, the chafer always spreads its funny looking antennae out before it takes off.
In my childhood, Rose chafers were one of our most favorite insects. We enjoyed their lustrous crusts. Under sunlight, the colors were changeable and always gave us tremendous mystery and imagination.
As per our own definition, we classified the cockchafers into three types:
“Fire Gold” was defined as those with golden purple on its shining green base. Its body was much thicker and more round than others. Regardless of its lovely clumsiness, it is the most diligent beetle. With  loud buzzing sound, it kept flying all the time, even when captured or tired. Therefore, this sort of chafer was very attractive to us.
The Chafer in pure dark-green is known as “Green Jade”. “Green Jade” is slightly  slimmer than “Fire Gold”. Actually, it is the real beauty among all sorts of chafers with gentle but lazy nature.
“Green Jades” always annoyed us by ignoring any take-off command and made us awkwardly gave up the fighting competition. Some of us might flight into a rage and became sadism for losing faces. They either exposed them under hot glaring sunshine or fiercely spanned them by grasping the far end of their tied threads. The most sever punishment to them was to nip their toes hardly. After such heavy penalties, they might unwillingly open their green elytra and took off reluctantly.
As a result, children would be amused greatly. They held the threads and followed their tracks cheerfully. Unfortunately, just a few feet away, the beetles stopped their flights again and piquantly swung into the air leaving behind their legs grasping the threads, there, the chafers snatched a moment of leisure and enjoyed themselves thoroughly.
The third chafer is known as “ Brown Jade”.
With the smallest size and dull brown without any metallic shining, it was often considered as rubbish with no enjoying value.
These three sorts of chafers were fancy to gather in the north slope of Dong Shan. Together with one or two wasps, they were hastily preparing picnic on the tree trunks.
“ Look, they are holding a birthday party!” someone shouted. “Shush!” the others hissed at him immediately.
In the  meantime, one of us climbed up the tree quietly and managed to drive the wasps away, then, with a sudden flap, he captured all of them in his closed palms.
We threw the “Brown Jude” away and shared the remainders with each other. We tied up their necks one by one with lengths of threads.
Usually, the little creatures often refused to eat after being captured. Therefore, after a few hours, they all looked deadly exhausted. This miserable condition immediate aroused our pity to them. We cut the threads shorter and, on the other end, tied some small pieces of paper with words such as “Freed by XXX”.
The little captives together with their tags were thrown into the air. Surprisingly, they were so smart that they just knew this was the very opportunity to escape.  Contrary to the extremely sorry look a moment ago, they all instantly revived and directly flew to their nests as soon as possible. Shortly after a while, we could see nothing but some small pieces of paper fluttering in the sky……

Note: 1) This piece was checked by my friend Mr. Tang in HK. Notified it with my sincere thanks!
           2) For picture reference pls. Link to:

            3) For Chinese version, pls. refer to: ... og-itemid-8535.html

[ Last edited by wenzili at 2007-7-6 02:49 PM ]

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rovi297 has been deleted
Post time 2007-6-29 19:30:28 |Display all floors

Yours reminds me of my childhood....

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Post time 2007-6-30 08:53:59 |Display all floors

Thank you!

Thank you for your comment! Yes, you are right. We used to collect marbel balls, even though, they were not as luxury as yours.

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