Fireflies

Big old flashy summer is here with her sun on high beam sending blinding white light everyone you look.  Smokin’ hot heat like a cast-iron skillet that’s been on stove too long presses down on us. 

Bright in-your-face reds, yellows, blues and greens are the colors of her abundant fruits and vegetables.  Summer’s storms announce themselves with booming thunder and jagged bolts of lightning slashing ominous skies.  

Oh, yeah, summer’s here, and she will not be ignored. 

So who could blame us if we overlooked the fireflies, or as some call them lightning bugs, flying in slow- motion?  Their bodies silently blink on and off, on and off, in the sticky humid air.  There’s no grand illumination here, no sound, just little pinholes of light in the darkening blanket of twilight.  But I love my tiny blinking bugs, and I always have. 

As a child, my goal was to capture as many of these fireflies as I could.  I would beg my mother for a glass jar.  It was always a pickle jar that, despite being washed out, retained the scent of its contents.  We’d poke holes in the top so the bugs would be able to breathe and put in some grass for them to nest in. 

Then I would run around the yard scooping up one lightning bug at a time.   The ability to capture a new bug without releasing any of the ones already in captivity was an art form that I nearly perfected.   

I never asked why these bugs blinked, which is a surprise because I was a curious child.  Turns out, I was standing in the way of romance, since those blinks are winks meant to attract a mate.  My hope is that they forgave this child and that releasing all of them the next day was sufficient atonement for my error. 

Honestly, it didn’t matter to me why they blinked.  I was enthralled by their luminescence.  All I wanted was to keep their light close to me.  My hope was that by placing my little jar on my bureau with the bugs sending out their dots of light, my room would be illuminated all night.   I was always disappointed.  

Maybe they were upset about being in a pickle jar, cut off from lightning bug society, and decided that my punishment would be to turn off their lights.  Maybe they were sad that they weren’t free to roam.   Maybe they didn’t like the pickle- scented jar freshener.   But I don’t think that’s what happened.  

It seemed to me then, as it does now, that my companions were brighter in the big outdoors than they ever were in the enclosed space of a pickle jar.  But how can that be?   Ah, just watch.  

One pulse of light seen in the blink of an eye may not seem very important, but we’d miss every one of them if they weren’t there.  Because you see, a lightning bug here, a lightning bug there, and another and another until hundreds, thousands are doing their thing all together, twinkling in the night, create magic.   

© Lynn Wyvill 2012

 

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