453. Fireflies on the longest day of the year

Summer solstice at StonehengeToday is the longest day of the year, folks. June 21, the meteorological start of summer is on us. More sunlight than any other day compels us to move, smile, dance, sing, and enjoy the free bonus light. Logic tells us that it is also the shortest night of the year, which seems odd because these tender summer nights go on forever. These nights don’t seem short when they are filled with the wonder of swooping bats, and fabulous cloud patterns, velvety shadows and the sparking of glow worms, aka, lampyridae, aka, photinus pyralis.

Image result for fireflies picturesWe are excited at my house because tonight is granddaughter Leah’s first meeting with the ephemeral lightning bugs that flit and blink across our back yard and the wide farm fields that rise to the western horizon behind our back decks. Large maple and evergreen trees we planted thirty five years ago stand as bushy black inkblot guards around our yard, cutouts against a midnight blue sky filled by twinkling stars and sparking fireflies. It’s a glorious sight that makes one think God has a very whimsical nature at times. How cool is it that little black insects can turn a humid summer evening into a pointillistic masterpiece? Pretty darn cool, I think, and His canvas is the globe we live upon. Sometimes when the psychic dots connect like this, it takes my breath away… I expire with an exhale and then inspire with a deeply satisfying inhalation. Try it at home, my fellow art lovers. Feel the joy saturate your toes and fingertips until you can taste joy in the mustard on your baloney sandwich.

Image result for glow worm toy picturesFunny connection is that when my granddaughter was born, I held her on my chest for long quiet hours as she simply breathed in and out in sweet baby breaths. I called her my little glow worm, and naturally sang the old Johnny Mercer song covered by the Mills Brothers “Glow Little Glow Worm” to her, never imagining any future applications. Way back in the archives, I’m sure there is a four year old post on those precious moments.

Shine little glow-worm, glimmer,
Shine little glow-worm, glimmer,
Lead us lest too far we wander
Love’s sweet voice is calling yonder
Shine little glow-worm, glimmer,
Hey, there don’t get dimmer,
Light the path below, above
And lead us on to love!

Image result for girl on grandma's lap pictures'So here we are with an excited four year old sitting on lovely grandma’s loving lap, waiting for the sky to darken. Leah has been given parental dispensation to stay up later than usual to hunt lightning bugs. Grandma has a clear acrylic storage container at the ready for capturing live fireflies. Leah is so excited she can hardly sit still. She scans the clouds for wild animals. “There’s a shark. And that’s a dolphin right above it.  Wonka, see?” I saw and watched the sun’s last glare fade.

Image result for clouds at sunset summer images

Grace joined us. “Leah was so excited after her bath. She complied in a finger snap.” She snapped her fingers as she said this. “Got in her jammies, brushed teeth, and couldn’t wait to come out and catch fireflies. We didn’t have them in Tucson.”

Image result for little girl dancing in yard pictures

Leah pranced and swirled dervishly in the darkening back yard. Grace recalled her firefly memories. “Do you remember the time I was Leah’s age, maybe 5 years old? Kayla Messinger spent the night here. We slept on that white pull out couch, remember, when you guys had those white curtains in the living room? We caught a bunch of fireflies and were watching them in the dark. After everyone else went to sleep, we thought it would be cool to let them out to fly around the living room. So we did and it was magical as they flew around and landed on the lamps and curtains. Then it hit us this wasn’t such a good idea. So, quiet as mice, we went around recapturing all the loose fireflies. I think we got them all, but we had to stand on the top of the couch to get the ones on the curtain rod. Funny how life repeats the little pleasures… and treasures.”  Sigh.

Image result for fireflies picturesI smiled recalling the innocence of her childhood which was being relived in front of us by Leah. Time felt like a thick rope that ran from our living room through Grace and me and connected to Leah.Related image

“There goes one. Did you see it?”


“Over there, under the cherry tree. Here. Take your container.”

Related imageIt was on. The light was fading and the fluttering glowworms were blinking on and off all around the yard. Even better they filled the air over the cornfield behind our yard with low level lime light. Such whimsical beauty!  My breath paused as Leah captured her first firefly.

“I’ll let her go in a couple of days”, she said. After collecting four or five, she named them– “This one is Hannah. That one is Eliza. This other one is Heady. Annnnnd that one issss, uhhhmmm, Jasmine.”

“Okay, let’s say good night to the fireflies you didn’t catch.”

“Good night.”

and from way over the hills comes the Mills Brothers’ silky tones….Image result for mills brothers pictures

Glow, little glow-worm, glow and glimmer,

Swim through the sea of night, little swimmer,

Thou aer-o-nau-tic-al boll weevil,

Il-lu-mi-nate yon woods primeval;

See how the shadows deep and darken,

You and your chick should get to sparkin’,

I got a gal that I love so,

Glow little glow-worm glow.


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