Tuesday, July 5, 2011
At the End of the Evening
The last of the day's sunlight wanes and I sit and watch night descend on my little patch of woods in my backyard. The warmth of the day remains but the edge is taken off and I know it won't be long until the air cools to some degree. It is the most magical time of the summer day for me and it never ceases to enthrall me.
The birds have finished their supper at the bird feeder and their evensong is over. All begins to quiet now; the backyard is peaceful and still. Before the darkness takes totally over, the fireflies come out for their nightly ritual and produce a light show. I have taken up the habit of waiting in anticipation for the precise moment when I spy the first blink of a lightening bug, soon to be followed by perhaps hundreds more. If I am inside, the lights in the kitchen/breakfast area are switched off and I watch the big picture window as intently as I would a movie screen at a theater. Outside on the patio provides better viewing, except for the mosquitoes, but I can ignore this distraction when there is magic to be seen. The first flicker occurs, followed by another and another and another and then the whole woods seem to come alive with the rising of the fireflies from their dormant state, hidden in the ivy and shrubs sleeping during the heat of the day. At times, they seem to have a hypnotizing rhythm and turn their lanterns on and off in sync, only to change and create a randomly delightful production. After about fifteen or twenty minutes, give or take a few, the blinking reaches a crescendo and begins to taper off until one by one the fireflies extinguish their flashing beacons as the darkness deepens and slides into the official nighttime. A stray critter may occasionally give a blink like the late guest at a party, not wanting to stop the celebration, but eventually even those last minute revelers give over to the sweet night and the stars in the summer sky..... It is truly the fairy lights of the summer and I don't want to let a day go by without watching, even though life intervenes and some days do not cooperate with this nocturnal ritual.
Add to my bucket list the desire to go to Elkmont, Tennessee near Gatlinburg in the Great Smoky Mountains in early June. At that time in Elkmont, thousands of fireflies are known to blink in unison. There is a similar occurrence in Congaree National Park located near Columbia, South Carolina. But for now, I will have to be content with my own private firefly theatrics in my backyard, which is just fine.
Last week, as we were watching out the picture window from the kitchen table at the end of dinner in total darkness, my husband asked me what fireflies eat. I answered with the first thing that popped into my head: "starlight and sunlight". Which is a pretty darn good answer, in my opinion. I hope you get to watch the fireflies of the summer at some point this season, even if only for a moment, and ponder the wonders life hands to us freely and unabashed. Enjoy!
"What is life? It is the flash of a firefly in the night. It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime. It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset.”~ Crowfoot, Blackfoot Warrior