Suspended Between Light and Dark

Fireflies in the Garden

Here come real stars to fill the upper skies,
And here on earth come emulating flies,
That though they never equal stars in size,
(And they were never really stars at heart)
Achieve at times a very star-like start.
Only, of course, they can’t sustain the part.

—Robert Frost

Car-less for a while last night, so I walked to the grocery store for some stuff for this evening’s small holiday festivities. There is one experience each year that always makes me smile, always makes me infinitely happy: seeing the very first fireflies of the season.

Everyone, it seems, has a firefly story that also makes me smile, particularly stories of those who are seeing them for the very first time. They’re so common where I’m from, that I always take for granted their existence, forgetting that they don’t even exist on the other side of this US landscape.

My welsh friend B., upon seeing fireflies, thought for certain she was hallucinating, for there are no fireflies across The Pond (nor skunks, interestingly). She believed she, and only she, was seeing fairies. No one with her at the time made any mention or seemed to notice at all the flickering flashes of light surrounding them. Both intrigued and terrified by the phenomena, B. told me she was unable to confess to anyone what she’d seen until many weeks later.

E., who is from eastern Washington state, discovered his first fireflies during a family vacation back east. He decided that the western US needed a firefly population, so he captured many many of them inside a glass jar with holes poked in the lid. He and his parents were traveling by train. Not a single poor firefly made it even as far as Glacier National Park. E. was devastated.

I feel sad for people who have not seen them, who don’t get to see them annually. they are truly one of the only things i’ve really missed during the times I’ve lived out west.

Happy Happy Midsummer!

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2 thoughts on “Suspended Between Light and Dark

  1. You know what I like about your writing, Mel – it's the education you always swirl in about nature – fireflies across the world. I need to do more of that in my own writing.

    I do have a firefly childhood habit that I don't think would make you smile – it's a boy thing – tossing fireflies into the fan to see sparks, mini fireworks…like I said it's a boy thing – playing with fire 😉

  2. Ah, well, I'm sure that has to do with my fondness for research, even if it's only of the anecdotal variety 🙂 When it comes to writing, I'm an over-researcher, learning more than I need to about my subject – much of which never makes it into my writing at all. I think sometimes that I like the research better than the writing!

    I have lots of childhood memories of neighborhood kids – boys and girls – alike, squishing up fireflies, spreading the glow through the grass, on themselves. I could never do it though.

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