Summer Dances with Lightening Bugs

The summer nights were always hot and sticky, but also filled with one of my most magical memories. I remember quietly sitting in the yard with my family, peering out into the last moments of daylight, waiting. The show started just as the sun slipped below the horizon.

“There was one!” my sister squeaked.

“No way. Where?” I’d reply.

“Over there!” She would point her tiny finger out into the darkness.

“Oh, I saw one! Over there!”

“There was one!”

Before you knew it there were small flickering lights everywhere! The lightening bugs finally crawled out of their daytime homes to dance in the night.

Sometimes we would just watch quietly as the faint little flashes appeared. Other times our jars were ready to be the temporary home to a few little lightening bugs, screen lids and all. Mom would only let us keep them for a few hours before we had to let them go. It was fun to watch them in the jar but the most fun was when we were out in the yard dancing with them.

We would have to watch very carefully and very patiently which was an amazing feat for two little girls excited to dance with fireflies. Lightening bugs are not fast. They drift with the air, letting it take them wherever it wants to take them. It wasn’t their speed that required our patience, it was the darkness. They are only located when they blink. As more blinks filled the darkness, our dance began…bare foot in the grass and in pajamas out in the darkness. There would be a blink and we’d run to it. Lasting only an instant, we would have to wait for a few blinks before we could catch one. When we did, we’d cup our hands around it and peer thorough a crack between our fingers. After a few blinks, we would open our hand and watch the little bug crawl to our fingertip before taking off into the black night.

Regardless of my age, catching lightening bugs was always fun. As I got older, the dances were more subtle. I would stand in the warm soft grass under the beautiful blanket of stars, surrounded by hundreds of twinkling lightening bugs and watch their show rather than participate in it. It was mesmerizing, night after night. At some point, I no longer used the glass jars with screen lids. I’d only extend my hand into the air, into the path of a floating bug, and let it drift into my hand. Smiling, I would still watch it crawl up to the tip of my finger, then fly off.

Where I live now, there are no lightening bugs. Their existence would be a fairytale if I had not grown up somewhere else. Although the nights here are filled with other beauties, I often find myself closing my eyes to drift on the breeze and dance with lightening bugs.