They are enigmatic flashes of light in the night’s heat, sparks of little spirits that lift my heart for some reason.
My first sighting of these natural engines of energy reminds me of the promise of another summer’s hope. So much I attribute to the diminutive, luminescent firefly.
Yet they seem to flourish under the weight of such anticipation. And with each arrival of the evening, I continue to watch for the fireflies to blink into my existence. To lift my spirits and to remind me of other lights in my life.
One of my good friends recalls how her just-older brother used to put a firefly in his mouth, making her laugh at his back-lit blinking teeth. And then as he, too, laughed, he released the little beacon back to the night. A cherished memory that brings her brother back to life for a few moments.
It appears that fireflies take oxygen and transform it into light via their special light organs. That’s how we should power our cars. And rather than appearing randomly, lightning bugs fly in unique patterns called, “optical signals.” But scientists still cannot explain how these light-emitting creatures manage their on-off switch.
Where I grew up just outside of a small town, in firefly-filled nights, the sound of quiet is absolute and calming. At times I could stand beneath a sliver of new moon and hear nothing. Oh, the occasional distant neighbor dog’s lone bark might interrupt the stillness, but that was all.
And integral to that quiet was the liquid dark that flowed from horizon to horizon, adorned with a multitude of stars, soft lights against the true black. No artificial city lights. No honking horns nor fire sirens. No staccato of car beams. No cacophony of dogs. Just silence. Just the quiet. Just peace.
Now homes hum to the tune of our electric meters running ever faster. And it’s not good enough to turn off an appliance; now we have to be rude and unplug them. Of course, that initiates electronic lights flashing for immediate time-change attention and disconnects us from cable and might even cause the silent alarm to go off.
No, even with the TV and radio turned off, we are assaulted with the air-conditioner’s compressor, the refrigerator’s motor and the hum of various semi-sleeping electronic devices. Every time I take out my toaster, I wonder how much energy it will manage to suck down as the toasting bread ticks ever browner.
Apparently in the not-too-distant future, every person will have seven digitized items. OK, that’s a cell phone and a pad, a laptop and a tabletop, a fake book and a… What else could we have? Maybe we’ll carry a miniaturized, personal microwave?
Maybe our cars will be so light and energy-efficient they can fold up and fit in a pocket? Or maybe we will tote around inflatable personal pods to catch a quick nap, necessary after all that digital effort? Or not.
Maybe we will take a little time for the silence. Maybe we can find a moment to sit outside in the summer night’s breeze.
And then the coming of the magical fireflies, as they light our night, can engender reminders of what is really important.
We can remember the other lights in our lives, the other remarkable beings who live in the homes near and not-so-near. When life is dark, we are not alone.
Copyright 2016 by Gloria Christie. All rights belong to the author and material may not be copied without the author’s express permission.