For the past week, folks who love aerial explosions have enjoyed once-a-year bliss, which they share with anyone with the good sense to get outside and enjoy the show. Even though we live three miles out of town, we are on a hilltop, and the whump-whump-whump of exploding aerial display sounds from town carries up the amphitheater-like rise to announce each brilliant blast.
We’ve enjoyed ruby, sapphire, emerald, and diamond jewels as they hang for a moment in circles, ovals, starbursts, and sparkling sprays above town and then fade into the dark sky. What I have been reminded of as I spent the last few days enjoying these man-made light shows is that nature produces her own small-scale light show through late June and July.
Beginning at dusk, a jillion fireflies become visible as they weave in and out of trees, across pastures, through gardens, and along the creeks flashing their little lights as they look for mates. While the science behind this natural luminescence is pretty astounding, just watching them is more amazing.
Children love these nighttime creatures and run laughing and giggling as they try to catch them to put them in glass jars to create lanterns. Watching adults remember when they too ran after these hard to capture blinking lights and laugh along with their children. Everybody has a firefly story to tell—the one that got trapped on the windshield wiper and blinked the family’s way home on a dark night. The fireflies placed on a family’s address numbers where they temporarily lit up the address.
Some kids take their fireflies to bed where they get out of their glass jail and turn a bedroom into a fairyland. We once had a lone firefly in the house who blinked his way along the baseboards in my bedroom, driving me crazy wondering what was making that intermittent bright light in my room. I finally found myself crawling along the baseboard to discover what made that light. Imagine my surprise—and maybe his-- when I got brave enough to touch the lonely firefly who somehow ended up inside instead of outside.
Firefly watching is part of my summer schedule. I plan in at least thirty minutes an evening to sit outside and watch these little guys weaving their summer magic to the rhythm of a locust and frog symphony. I wondered last night if the fireworks on the 4th of July confuse them and make them think there is some BIG LOVE up there in the sky. Once town quiets down after the big celebration, you’ll find me sitting in the dark watching nature’s own tiny firework show and making memories that will bring a winter smile.