I came home a few nights ago to fireflies everywhere.
It was just dusk, halfway between the heat of the day and the dark of the night . . . you know, that time of day when everything looks a little softer around the edges.
Those few moments on the porch watching fireflies gave me pause. See, I love the way they fly, kind of heavy in the air, like they are nonchalantly happening by; and I love the way they light up almost gradually, like an afterthought.
As I stood there watching the fireflies I had a sudden and deep longing for my grandmother. I can still smell the Chicago summers at Grandma’s house, freshly cut grass and the smell of Grandpa’s tractor. We’d play hard all day and spend the early evening hours catching fireflies and eating corn on the cob with those little plastic end thingies people use to hold their hot corn on the cob.
Those summers were times when the whole world seemed full of possibilities, when all the new things like acorns and squirrels, corn fields and fireflies (remember, I grew up in Hawaii) were just new curiosities, symbols of frontiers yet to explore, a world full of possibilities and the endless optimism that even though bedtime is coming the jar on the nightstand would light up long after I fell asleep. (Let’s just ignore the cruelty to animals issue for a moment, shall we?)
And when I stood on the porch the other night and watched those fireflies resolutely lighting up the landscape even though the creeping darkness was just around the corner, I thought of summer memories at Grandma’s house and the lessons I learned there, all summed up in a phrase I read recently in a novel: “Never forget in the darkness what you knew to be true in the light.”