Crickets are only charming in poetry

Do you remember being eight or nine years old and reciting Walter De la Mare’s poem, “Some One?” It was one of my favourite poems.
Someone came knocking at my wee small door;
Someone came knocking I’m sure sure sure.
Ringing any bells? I clearly recall standing at the front of the class, my knees knocking together, my head down, my voice most certainly something less than a whisper.
Walter De la Mare, an English poet, wrote a lot of poetry and many of them were “works for children” for which he was honoured. But “Some One” was probably his most memorable, most well-known, with its simplicity and fun.
I remember thinking I might change my name to something with a bit of rhythm to it like Walter’s, though Walter was called Jack because of his dislike of the name Walter.
Jack De la Mare doesn’t have the same ring to it.
I listened, I opened, I looked to left and right;
But nought there was a stirring in the still dark night.
If memory serves, Duane Peters recited this poem at the Festival the year we were eight and I remember being exceptionally proud of his poetry-reciting skills. Duane was brave, his voice strong and certain.
He also said a poem about visiting the Queen and wearing a hat, but the details of that poem are less clear (actually, not clear at all).
The Festival was a huge deal when we were kids; donning our best duds and shining our hair and shoes. Memory work was a pillar of our learning.
That same year, I recited “Fairies” by Rose Fyleman, another English poet whose life spanned the same period as Walter De la Mare, and I still can remember the first stanza of that poem as if I had learned it yesterday.
These are the little bits of our childhood we tuck away in our memory trunk and pull them out when we need a rest from today; from what is now.
Only the busy beetle tap-tapping in the wall;
Only from the forest the screech owl’s call;
Only the cricket whistling while the dewdrops fall.
Speaking of crickets whistling, this brings me to my current complaint—despite the great love I have for this poem. Someone (and I’ll not mention any names but it wasn’t “Gracie”) brought wood into the house and down the basement stairs into the firewood bin; normally a good thing, an act of preparedness.
However, wood into the house before the first frost can turn out to be not the wisest of decisions.
The intentions of the firewood carrier were very good, and hard work was involved, but said firewood was laden with crickets—whistling crickets—and we now have a choir of crickets in almost every room of the house.
At night, these same crickets perform their arias from some indistinguishable opera at full volume; each one competing to be the loudest. They would give Placido Domingo a run for his money.
Even “Gracie” is filling out a complaint card. If “Stinky” was still with us, he would have solved the problem in short order using his jungle cat manoeuvres.
Crickets may be charming in the woods at night while the dewdrops are falling, charming in a poem, but in the house they are beyond annoying; hiding under and in places that no one can reach.
I feel like spraying my entire house with DDT, though I think that may be ill-advised.
Crickets are prehistoric-looking, some of them look like they are on steroids; huge ugly things. And I am trying to remind myself why it is we need these creatures. Crickets are wondering the same thing about us.
So instead of being annoyed by their incessant whistling, I shall return to my poem and Walter De la Mare:
So I know not who came knocking, at all, at all, at all.
wendistewart@live.ca

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