When you live in this neck of the woods, fall is heralded by several very telling harbingers. There’s the vicious September heat wave, the inevitable tropical storm, the dried corn cob that flies out of the back of a truck and strikes your windshield, and the legions of crickets that nest in your drainpipe and take up residence under your bedroom window. The nest invariably spawns the lone maverick cricket who decides to fledge the nest and move into the back of your closet. He remains silent until 3 a.m., at which point he sings his crickety song at full volume.

The mating call of a single closeted cricket is the most irritating and grating sound in the world, edging out both Sarah Palin and the mating cry of the eight-beers-too-many drunken frat boy. It’s loud. It’s chirpety. And it wakes you from a dead sleep…or, more likely, your husband wakes you from a dead sleep so that you can help him locate and dispatch the offender.

While I enjoy a good cricket hunt as much as any transplanted mountain girl, I decided that this year, we needed to hit the crickets before they made their way indoors. This involved sprinkling cricket dust around the perimeter of the house. We have been largely successful, though I admit to wishing for a few more incidences of my four-year-old shouting “Big cricket! Big cricket!” while taking off in pursuit, flip-flop in hand.