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Paul D. Coverdell World Wise Schools

Paul D. Coverdell World Wise Schools

Cricket and the Sea

Region
Central America and Mexico, Guatemala
Type
Folk Tale

A yellow cricket once lived under the cool shade of a beautiful cieba tree. Every day, just before the sun began to set, the yellow cricket would leave his home and fly to the wheat fields. As he passed through the village, he sang for the women, letting them know when a storm was coming, when romance was in the air, or when the roses needed tending. No one in the village had a clock or wanted one: The cricket's music guided them in a rhythm truer than time.

The yellow cricket flew past the farmers, too, as they headed home from the fields. They all waved to the yellow cricket, knowing that, with their workday done, the work of the yellow cricket was just beginning.

When the yellow cricket finally reached the fields, he would perch himself on top of a long golden stalk and sing a song to the wheat. All the other crickets from across the land joined in. The crickets sang songs about planting time and harvesting time, songs about the cool, sweet rain and the hot, grueling sun. The crickets sang to remind the wheat about the pureness of bread and the sweetness of cake, reminding the stalks about who they were and what they one day might be.

One day, as dawn was about to break and the crickets were about to head home, everyone gathered around the yellow cricket. He had sung exceptionally well that night.

"You are the best singer of all," they said to him. "Why don't you go to a much larger place than this wheat field and show the world our greatness. Why don't you sing to the sea?"

As the yellow cricket went home, he considered what the other crickets had told them. It would take courage, the yellow cricket knew, to sing to the sea. And what would he sing about? he wondered.

"I will know when I get there," he answered out loud. But the yellow cricket knew he must prepare. From that moment, he decided to discipline himself. No longer would he stay out in the cold at night, and no longer would he waste time with his friends. If he were going to sing to the sea, he would need every ounce of his strength to do it.

Finally, the day came when the cricket was ready. But before he began his journey to the sea, he passed through the village to say goodbye.

"Our lives won't be the same without you, little cricket," the women of the village cried. "But the sea needs to hear you," the farmers told him, as he flew past. "Tell the great sea about our village. Tell the great sea about our lives."

It took the yellow cricket many days to reach the sea. (He was, after all, a very small cricket.) But when a cool, salty breeze rushed forward to greet him, he knew he was drawing near.

Seating himself upon a large rock, the yellow cricket looked down at the crashing waves below. The sea rose before him like a mighty giant.

Just then, the cricket knew what he wanted to tell the sea. He wanted to sing about how the women in the village dreamed of diving to the deepest part of the ocean floor, and how the farmers of the village dreamed of scaling the highest mountain peak. The cricket then began to sing a song that was the finest any man, woman, animal, or insect has ever composed.

But the sea roared, drowning out the cricket's song. The yellow cricket tried to raise his voice, but the sea became louder and louder, even though it could plainly see that the yellow cricket was singing his heart out.

The yellow cricket sang and sang until no sound came. His voice was forever broken. With heavy sadness, the yellow cricket left the sea and returned home. He no longer sang.

Life in the village was different. Without the yellow cricket's music to guide them, the women in the village fell into the empty rhythm of the clock's tick-tock, and the farmers' fields soon forgot the glorious story of wheat. 

About the Author

Monica Fitzgerald

"Cricket and the Sea" is told by Monica Fitzgerald (Peace Corps Volunteer, Guatemala, 1986–1988). "A Guatemalan friend once gave me a cassette with music by a group called Alux Nuhal," says Monica. "They sing social protest music and have a song called 'The Cricket and the Sea,' which comes from Guatemalan folklore. This tale is based on that song." Monica worked as a health Volunteer in Quezaltepeque, Chiquimula, in Guatemala.

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