They come out in June, just for a couple of weeks. Some years I’ve missed them entirely. But tonight as I stroll out in to the night to check on the watering of my garden, I see them – tiny flashes of fiery light flickering amongst the trees. You’d be forgiven for thinking they were fairies.
There is no breath of air and the stillness seems expectant. To the west, Venus and Jupiter shine benignly, as if they were proud parents of these earthly creatures trying so fiercely to imitate their celestial light. My brother and I cannot help but whisper in the presence of this magic, for that is what it is, despite what the scientists might say.
I hear that people travel great distances to the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee to see the lightning bugs dance. Perhaps the fireflies down there put on a greater show than here, but I feel no need to go elsewhere when I can see them for myself in their hundreds just a few feet past my garden.
I have never caught a firefly before, but tonight I am lucky to be with my patiently determined brother. Despite low-flying bats and the ominous scuffle of what may be a skunk in the nearby vicinity, we wait for the perfect moment. And it comes. My brother carefully gathers a firefly that had landed on the ground. It beams its little light so fiercely perhaps it thinks my brother’s large, gentle hands are a potential suitor.
We let it go, and it flickers back into the night with the rest of its fellows. Even now, inside writing by artificial light, I know they are out there flashing amongst the dark, still trees under Venus and Jupiter’s watchful gazes, doing what they were born to do. The sun has set, the moon has not risen, and yet there is so much natural light in this night.