Tuesday, June 15, 2010

For Shelly...and on behalf of fireflies

I don't know how it happens that in all of my years growing up and sleeping in an upstairs bedroom I never looked out at night to see the fireflies.  I look forward to seeing them every year, and count their appearance as assurance that summer is really here to stay awhile.  I have caught them and put them in jars, made them into 'jewelry' (I know, it's cruel to do that, but it's a rite of childhood, isn't it), shared them with my grandson...but I never looked out from a second-story window to see them lighting up the world below.

Late last night I got out of bed to turn the window fan down a notch, and saw strange lights in the yard.  I checked out the road to see if there was some sort of odd traffic, but the road was empty, quiet.  I grabbed my eyeglasses from the nightstand so I could see better, and that was when I realized that what I was seeing was fireflies...lightning bugs...hundreds, maybe thousands, of them.  They were in the grass, in the air, in the highest branches of the trees. There were so many of them, twinkling, flashing, it looked like a faery dance in the darkness.  I was transfixed, enchanted, in awe of their beauty.  There were so many! far more than one would see standing on the ground.

My friend, Shelly, is in Germany, mobilized by the Navy Reserves to work with a medical unit on an Army base there.  She left last August, was back briefly this May and June for her daughter's high school graduation, and has returned to Europe for another eighteen months.  They don't have fireflies in Europe.  She hasn't seen any since she left Indiana last summer.  How sad it is that such a simple and beautiful part of our summer landscape is missing from the European continent in its entirety...and how odd and perhaps even frightening it must seem for visiting Europeans to see them here for the first time.

What a wonderful world this is.
Firefly images were downloaded here .