reconstructing childhood–the lightning bugs have arrived!
reconstructing childhood–the lightning bugs have arrived!

reconstructing childhood–the lightning bugs have arrived!

The lightning bugs are back. They fly low to the ground as the lawn dissolves from green to black in the dusk. Seeing them, I can reconstruct a childhood: a hot night under tall trees; the Good Humor man, in his square white truck, the freezer smoky when he reaches inside for an ice cream. . .I relive the magic of the yellow light without the bright white of hindsight. The little flares in the darkness, a distillation of the kind of life we think we had, we wish we had, we want again.

~Anna Quindlen

It’s here–I don’t care what anyone says–Summer crept into the farm quietly then yelled, “Surprise!” last night.  As I perused the gardens, I noticed summer seedlings starting to take shape–squash, watermelon, and cucumbers

watermelon seedling

peeking through the earth and smiling as if to say, “Aaaahhh, Summer.”

I sat down in the mulch to talk with the Sisters about it.  “Summer’s here,” I noted, “and with her, she brings suitcases filled with hot sun and warm nights, long days and bugs, glorious bugs.”  Oreo turned and squawked as if to say, “Well, tell her to hurry up and unpack the warm nights.  For goodness sakes, it gets chilly when the sun goes down.”  As I giggled at her honesty, I caught something out of the corner of my eye.

There it was–Summer’s first lightning bug!  Of any gift she brings with her, Summer delights me most with fireflies.   I wanted to lie down in the mulch and let Summer’s celestial light wash over me.  The anticipation of vacation days at the beach, quiet nights on my front porch, and busy evenings in the garden warmed my insides.


Even more importantly, lightning bugs remind me of a childhood filled with magic, curiosity, and joy.  Fireflies mean staying up late, running barefoot through cool grass, and excitement that makes a child’s body shudder.  Lightning bugs meant safety from things that went bump in the night–what creature couldn’t be tamed by the ethereal glow.

And so, while I dread the growing numbers of mosquitoes nipping at my skin and humidity soaking my clothing, I will graciously thank Summer for the gift of lightning bugs–not just because they mark a new season, but also because they remind me of a simpler, more innocent time.  Every adult spirit needs a bit of that now and again.

And so, should you stop by the farm this summer, I’ll be the one, jar in hand, running barefoot in the moonlight.  Now, gotta go!   A Mason jar needs some holes poked in the lid. . .


  1. Charles Barrow

    Go into a room with the lightning bugs(fireflies) and turn them loose. Then cut out the lights. But be ready for your 2 spinster aunts that lived with you when you were young to burst in and demand to know why you did this!

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