I have a friend who grew up in the Midwest, and now lives in Florida.
Just a few weeks ago, she wrote and lamented the differences in her life now.
“I miss being able to just sit outside. Here, if the bugs don’t get you, the heat and humidity will. If there is a snake within the county, it will find its way to my porch. I miss being able to just jump in the car without the worry of burning my legs on the seat and my hands on the steering wheel. Instead of warming the car up like we used to have to do in the winters up there, we have to start the car up and let the air conditioning cool the car down to a temperature that a human being can endure…
“I miss all kinds of things, but it just occurred to me a few evenings ago that the one thing I miss most of all — and I know you will think this is crazy — well, I miss the lightning bugs!”
There is something very universal about that almost childlike fascination with lightning bugs. It seems that it is a shared understanding among those who ever had the joy of watching them light up an open field. Just mention lightning bugs — or fireflies — in a room filled with adults from the Midwest, and eyes will light up and little smiles appear almost magically.
Everyone, it seems, remembers catching them on summer nights. It is such a thrill to recall chasing hundreds of fireflies across dewy grass and gently capturing a few with that hopefulness of holding them forever.
I have to wonder just how many mayonnaise jars doubled as hopeful permanent homes for those little bugs. With holes poked in lids, a few blades of grass pulled and thrown inside along with the fireflies, there was always the hope that a magical little family of lightning bugs could exist for years, lighting up the darkened bedroom.
The thing I recall most of all is the unique aroma of lightning bugs. There is no other creature on earth that carries this scent. It is unique, memorable, sort of strange.
I remember my aunt asking me, with a wrinkled-up nose, why in the world we wanted to catch and save those stinky things. My sister and I came up with the sort of answer that softens an aunt’s heart. “It is like having a pet that is a night light, so we aren’t scared of the dark!”
When I think of summers gone by, it is filled with memories of swimming until we practically grew gills, eating around a little bonfire, enjoying such delicacies as hot dogs, chilled watermelon, and roasted marshmallows for dessert.
While the adults sat and talked around that bonfire, we didn’t have sense enough to be tired out after such a long and eventful day. The lightning bugs were out there, just begging to be chased and caught.
Who could resist?
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