I loved summer nights. There are few things better than sitting in a rocking chair on the front porch with an iced cold beer worthy enough to have a lime wedge. Heat lightning silhouetting wispy clouds and everyone counts until they hear the faint rumble of thunder. Throw in a gently breeze, one that cools and keeps the bugs away, and what you have is pretty much blissful relaxation. I remember these nights well. Nights when the kids would chase fireflies (or lightning bugs… depending on where you live) during that brief period after twilight.
If nothing else, I must be in quite a routine with the dogs. For whatever reason, I haven’t taken them out during the time when the fireflies put on their display during this time of the year. I never really thought about it until yesterday evening. That is, until Tucker was almost pleading with me to take him out. I grumbled (as I always do) and took him out (as I always do).
I walked the dogs outside and an overwhelming yearning came on me — like an cartoon anvil to the head — as I saw these bugs lighting-up on the edge of a stand of trees in our backyard. It was a beautiful thing. The bugs, that is… not the anvil to the head.
I swear, I could practically see my kids, at the wonderful age of 8 or 9, chasing these flying insects down. Each barefoot and wearing the dirt of the day. Dirt so thick that when they took their socks off it could easily be mistaken for a tan line. Sweaty evidence of a fun day. I had an overwhelming urge to kick off my shoes and see if I still had the ole’ knack for catching them. The dogs in tow saved me from certain humiliation or injury.
Yes, the kids would laugh and run toward each flicker, magically suspended for a brief second. Grasping at the air. Then straining to see them in the grayness of night after they went dim. Every time they successfully nabbed a firefly they would bring it back to show me — “Daddy, look! Daddy, look!” — like it was nothing I had ever seen before. I always pretended I hadn’t, and marveled at both the beauty of the insect and my kid’s ability to catch it.
They would then put it in a pickle jar, padded with grass and air holes in the lid. Without fail, they would ask to keep them as a pet. No, Sue would say. She would go into her standard spiel about freedom and respect of nature. The kids bored quickly with their protests of how they would take care of them (this might be a good time to bring up the hermit crabs). Then, if not as pets, how about overnight, they would ask? Sue never allowed it, making them release them before we went in.
Simple times in our lives. I really do miss these… and beer.