Fireflies

Dusk is late in Ann Arbor in July, it comes halfway between dinner and bedtime. I walk through the yard in the last light with a cup of tea, watching the fireflies’ silent calls, small lightning without thunder, across the falling evening. I can’t see them at all until they light up, and I wonder if they can see each other, if they’re aware of each other, in their dark phases. Their movements are not frenzied like moths at windows, they float in deep silence, no chirps or clicks, and they wink out in one place to reappear as a surprise in another. They dance to light, not music. It might for all I know be wild, frenzied excitement to the fireflies themselves, but to me it is peace and calm, the benediction of a summer night.

I am barefoot, and I feel the grass dampening as the air cools. It’s still light enough to see where I have weeded, planted, tidied, and where I still have more to do. It’s deeply satisfying to have finished what I’ve finished, and also that there’s more to keep on doing. A garden is always a work in progress.

It’s been another good and ordinary day, some reading, some writing, some sketching, some gardening, and now watching the fireflies like tiny angels bringing their news in flashes, bright against dark. Once, as a child, I put them in a jar, but I didn’t know what to feed them so I let them out. Stay free tonight, fireflies. Forage, and mate, and do whatever makes a good and ordinary firefly day. I don’t know how a firefly feels about that, but I will be grateful enough for both of us.

 

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