This just in: It’s going to be a vaguely great fall

Sep. 28, 2013 @ 04:33 AM

It’s pretty well covered and complained about that the media has a tendency to seek out the most negative news it can collectively find. A lesser-known phenomenon, but one that deserves just as much attention if not more since its effects are longer-lasting, is the news story deliberately crafted to freak readers out for an entire season.

I give you: “INSECTS WILL OUTNUMBER PEOPLE 600 TO 1 IN THIS SPRING’S MASSIVE CICADA INVASION!”

Right after reading this article I nailed all our windows shut and canceled any appointments that would take me out of the house. Then I waited for the Massive Invasion.

When it hadn’t happened by early June, I took a tentative step outside. All looked clear, so I sprinted to my car and drove off to the library.

As soon as I opened the car door a bevy of small brown bugs landed on my sleeve.

“They’re here!” I shrieked, flapping my arms in a crazed attempt to fling the creatures off.

No, said a woman striding past me into the library, they’re kudzu bugs.

A short time later, I was driving along one of those bucolic rural roads in North Carolina that look like a child’s storybook, complete with rolling green hills and barns and farmers on tractors who tip their hats as you pass by, when out of the blue a spindly legged creature landed with a splat on my windshield.

I froze. I was still 10 long miles away from home! Could I make it back in time before the entire plague of cicadas descended on humankind, chewing up everything in sight and leaving those kindly farmers no other choice if they wanted to preserve next year’s crop than to run out into the road and capture a hapless traveler to sacrifice to He Who Walks Behind The Rows?

Out of the corner of my eye I took another look at the thing stuck to my windshield. It was a wet pine needle.

That there would be no cicada invasion eventually became obvious even to those who had originally predicted one. The sensationalistic warnings were downgraded to faintly hopeful headlines like “Cicadas Spotted in Morganton and Other Parts of North Carolina.”

My relief was short-lived, of course. Just as I was anticipating the change of seasons, I came across this fretful alert from the AP: “SUMMER RAIN MAY FADE FALL LEAVES.”

Naturally my first instinct was to panic. I mean, who wouldn’t at the prospect of two months of muted leaves?

Then I remembered I have a media platform, too…once a week, anyway. So I hereby take it upon myself to make a cheerier prediction: this fall, the leaves are going to explode in a veritable rainbow of colors!

Also, squirrels will aim their acorns at someone else besides you, you’ll win the best cake at a fall festival cakewalk, and your first match will get a spectacular bonfire going to the wild applause of friends and family and the discernible sound somewhere of the ESPN Monday Night Football theme.

Oh, and one more thing about the leaves.

They’ll be extra crunchy when you leap into a big pile of them.

Stephanie Janard is a mother and writer who lives in Spindale. She can be reached at sjanard@msn.com.