Saturday, June 16, 2012
Surprised by Fireflies
Last Sunday evening we stepped out onto our deck to watch the fireflies for a few moments before going up to bed. They are a summer treat not to be missed, the earth's luminous exhale.
Before we could settle into watching the lazy light show, our attention was captured by bats, three of them swooping and circling repeatedly overhead, close enough to see the leathery texture of their wings. Usually I see them when it's already dark, glimpsed very briefly in the glare of a streetlight or the wan glow of the moon. This time there was still enough light to really watch them and marvel at their sightless flight.
Eventually, with the light lowering, we turned our eyes back to the lawn below to savor the fireflies. But that's not where most of them seemed to be. Instead, the tree line that edges our property on two sides was filled with the dear bugs, twinkling like Christmas lights. We've never even seen them in the trees before, and here was a display to rivet us until dark had fully fallen.
I wondered how many of them there were. Surely hundreds at the very least would be required to fill the crowns of well over a dozen trees. To think that we are surrounded unknowingly by insects in unimaginable numbers all the time! To think that humble bugs can do something so beautiful! I teared up just a little and felt such utter joy. What a great way to end the day.
In the mornings after I wrote this:
Surprised by fireflies
My worries dart and swoop like bats,
indistinct in low light,
sieving the air for
bugs in the system.
They hiss in the hand.
Do they also perform a function--
balancing populations, say--
or are they only stuck
in the dark hunt?
Suddenly the invisible crowd
displays itself in twinkling splendor.
Tiny paparazzi in the trees
bear witness to magic.
We stop and marvel.
Any dusk with such a show
is a holiday--Full Life Day,
all of us glowing together.
I want to be with the fireflies,
lighting up the treeline like Christmas in June.
Nobody told them there's
no holiday tonight,
just the perfect cool of evening
falling gently on my shoulders,
the soft quiet of a summer's dusk,
the magic of contentment.
Oh, we are wrong dear insects.
Twinkle on--I choose you.
My memory is your jar.