After cursing the miasmatic breath of summah in the post below, I suppose I ought to light at least one candle by pointing out that last evening marked the first time this season I have seen fireflies about the grounds of the port-swiller residence.
Fireflies are among my very favorite things about this time of the year, and always have been. (Well, who doesn’t like them?) When I was a kid, I often engaged in the traditional sport of catching them in the evening, although instead of putting them in jars, I would let them loose in my bedroom in the hopes that they would light it up for me (which they sometimes did). These days, of course, childs need not go to all the bother of chasing down the real thing because it’s easier just to go out and buy the kit.
The greatest firefly display I ever saw happened one evening over twenty years ago when I was spending the summah with my godparents in the country near Fredericksburg, VA. As happens there with peculiar frequency, an enormous thunderstorm had rolled through early in the evening. Later, after it was over, I went outside for some reason or other. Across the lawn, in front of a belt of trees, the air was positively full of them. I’d never seen so many before, and I’ve never seen so many since. Every time I imagine it, I’m reminded of the line from that old 10,000 Maniacs song that goes, “The stars were so many there, they seemed to overlap.”
At the same time, the air was so incredibly still and (despite the storm) heavy, that I swear I could hear a faint pah! each time one of the little critters flashed.
Oh, one other thought wanders into my mind as I contemplate these matters: I use the words “firefly” and “lightning-bug” fairly interchangeably. Is there any kind of regional preference for one name or the other? Or is this a general proposition? (You never know. I’m originally from upstate New York. So was the Old Gentleman. He taught me to call a particular type of grass with round, sharp prickles in it “sand-burrs”. Everyone else in south Texas, where I grew up, called them “stickers”. I got teased mercilessly until I changed my word choice.)
UPDATE: Whoops! It appears I wrote several of the paragraphs of this post almost verbatim about a year ago. Is it possible to plagiarize oneself? My apologies. Must be the heat. Either that or my senility creeps on apace.