Last December Dagmar and I moved to our acreage. It’s early July now, so we’ve lived here just over six months. This home seems so natural to us it feel like we’ve lived here for years, yet every day we’re surprised by some little aspect of the land.
During the winter we were surprised at how often the wind came howling from the southeast. The wind never comes from the southeast – it always, always comes from the northwest.
During the spring we were surprised at how often the wind came howling from the southeast.
During the early summer we were surprised at how often the wind came howling from the southeast.
Last night we were surprised – the wind quit howling from the southeast for a few hours. Magically the fireflies came out. Not just a few, but hundreds – thousands – happily blinking away in our yard, the grove, and mostly out over the fields. Sometimes it seemed like the lightning bugs were blinking randomly, but other times it almost seemed as if they were creating purposeful art – a wave of light coming from the west, sweeping up through our yard into the pasture to fade out up over the fields a quarter mile away. Neither Dagmar nor I had ever seen anything like it.
When I was a child there was a certain spot in our grove, a small clearing, where there would often be fireflies. That’s where you would see them first, dancing in their own little meadow, surrounded by trees. They signaled the depth of summer to me. All is right with the world when there were fireflies dancing in the meadow – no wind, no rain, warm weather, calmness.
When I grew up and moved to Le Mars, I missed the fireflies. I’d see them occasionally in the small town, blinking in back yards as I’d drive by, intent on whatever errand I was running before shutting myself back into a windowless apartment. Later, when I moved to Sioux City, I gradually forgot about fireflies altogether. You simply never saw them. In our old neighborhood we didn’t feel safe sitting outdoors or going for leisurely walks – too many drunks, thugs, gang-bangers. And if there were any fireflies in the city, their lazy glow was drowned out by the constant stream of headlights, streetlights, the haze coming from the kiln factory across the street.
I never imagined, as a child, that I’d lose the magic of fireflies. And until just a few months ago, I never imagined I’d find that magic back again.