These studies take place somewhere between “Grey and Gold” by John Rodgers Cox and “January” by Grant Wood… both found in the Cleveland Museum of Art located in the American heartland.


“It is high summer. It comes every year right about this time. Long hot muggy, Midwestern days, dark thunderheads loom on the horizon, rolling in during the late afternoon: creating a perfect backdrop for endless rows of cornstalks beginning to golden up for Autumn… The trees are beginning to lose their luster. They look tired of the season even though they are still lush, full and green. There is a dusty appearance to the underside to their leaves. They move in the late day breeze as if anticipating the glorious burst into color soon to arrive… These days can turn violent too. The thunder clouds that gather often bring quick strong storms, hale and wind. The ground shakes at times, the blinding flash of lightning hitting close by…It is still possible to find a quiet spot not far from town to listen to the natural symphony, watch the moon rise, imagine this country as it once was in an older less populated time.…I think something will happen. I wonder what it will be…”

John Rogers Cox

In Amish country east of the city, down the trail we came to railroad tracks almost hidden by grass and a tall rusty train signal with empty cicada shells clinging to it. Further into the woods the sound of the locust- the seven year locust- became louder and louder. We came across the ruins of a building used for making maple syrup deep in the woods. It was now a large mound of brick and rotting wood, with weeds and saplings growing out of it. The mound was alive with hundreds of cicadas and that hypnotic cry. Dozens of empty shells had fallen and were blown in the summer breeze, collecting along the trail and moving with the rhythm of the locust song.


In the East “The cicada carries the connotation of rebirth. Since the cicada emerges from the ground every summer it is a symbol of reincarnation. Of special importance is the fact that the cicada molts, leaving behind an empty shell. But furthermore, since the cicada only lives for a short period… they are seen as a symbol of evanescence.”



“The smell of the leaves
from the magnolia trees in the meadow,
King Harvest has surely come.
Dry summer, then comes fall,
which I depend on most of all.
Hey rain maker, can’t you hear my call?
Please let these crops grow tall.
Long enough I’ve been up on skid row.
And it’s plain to see I’ve nothing to show.
I’m glad to pay those union dues,
just don’t judge me by my shoes.
Scarecrow and a yellow moon,
and pretty soon a carnival on the edge of town,
King Harvest has surely come.”

KING HARVEST (Has Surly Come) by Robbie Robertson

All works © David Verba: No images may be used without permission from the artist.