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Fireflies

I saw the first on out of the corner of my eye, like a spark rising from a fire which then went out. I watched where I’d seen it until it flashed again. A firefly, two actually, had begun their evening dance. They surprised me because I thought I’d have to go walking by the creek to see them. Instead they hovered in open spaces all around the house, flapping almost invisibly until deciding to light and rise up five or six inches. I know that such sights are common to those who live in the Eastern US. They’re like cardinals, which are common here and do not exist in the Western states where I’ve always lived. I sat while one fly hovered a mere five inches from my elbow. His wings were a blur of effort to keep him airborne, his legs dangled above his abdomen which pointed at the ground. He was a tiny, quiet bug and then he lit and I began to understand why people might believe in fairies.

I don’t really know what I expected of fireflies. I suppose I thought they would be in the bushes and trees, like twinkle lights from Christmas decorations. Even though I’ve heard the phrase “fireflies dancing” I somehow still pictured them lighting up from hiding places. They did not hide, instead they shone from wherever they were, for all the world to see. Then the light would go out and the quiet little bug would move to another spot to shine again. I think these fireflies are among my favorite things. I wish I had the photography skills to capture one of these little flies. I would love to capture, not just the beauty of the light, but also the hovering diligence of the bug who is only bright occasionally. The fireflies work so hard to create this beauty and they will never know that I am inspired by it.

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4 comments to Fireflies

  • Hannah

    Aren’t they amazing? I had no idea that I was moving to firefly country when I crossed the rocky mountains. The first time I saw them I thought I’d read too long and eyestrain flashing lights at me!

    Also, I had always assumed that “catching fireflies” was sort of synonymous to futile effort (flies are fast, right?). It utterly astonished me that they are actually indeed catch-able.

    • Catching them would not be hard at all. I had one land on my camera while I was trying to take a picture of it. Others let me walk right up to them an observe them from inches away.

  • I used to catch lightning bugs and put them in mason jars. We’d make aluminum foil lids and poke holes through them so they could breathe, and then release them when we had to go to bed. They would light up the jar like a little lamp; it was always one of my favorite things to do on a summer night.

    • Last night I took a mason jar outside and caught a few, but seeing them trapped in a jar made me feel sad, so I set them all free after only a couple of minutes. It was fun to catch them though.