Tag Archives: fireflies

Frost Valley #3: Murder

Precious fireflies continued to delight my summer in Frost Valley. Evening walks were a joy, there being plenty of water and meadows to provide happy habitat for the silent celebrants of the gathering darkness.

But not every night was spent in the wonder of nature. One evening I had joined Stan’s family for a bit of TV watching. I was staying in a loft over the garage, so when the show was over I headed out of Stan’s house. There was a step out the kitchen door and just as my balance shifted to land my right foot on the step — just when it was too late to change course — a firefly headed between the step and my shoe. It did not come out the other side.

My God ! ! !  I HAD KILLED A FIREFLY ! ! !  A beautiful innocent gift to the joy of evening. MURDERED ! ! !

Visions of eternity in a justly deserved insect purgatory filled my soul with dread and my heart with sorrow.

Then visions of thousands of children capturing and torturing and playing with millions of fireflies over hundreds of centuries crossed my mind and I was relieved to figure perhaps, just this once, I’d be forgiven for a purely accidental quick splattering of one firefly.

A laugh escaped my mouth, but I wasn’t happy with the incident.

When I moved my foot, however, I was rather delighted with the entire situation. There, smashed on the step, was a glowing mass of warm green goo. How does Life do that?!

I checked the bottom of my shoe, which also sported a spot of glowing goo.

A vision of proportion washed over me. For every one of those millions of captured and tortured and played with fireflies over the ages there must have been a dozen or more having their crushed bodies smeared on happy faces. The idea of glowing war paint was a wonderful prospect I would have gleefully joined in on a few years earlier.

For the rest of the summer I thought about smearing the glowing goo of a crushed firefly on my face. I just didn’t have the heart to do it.

Frost Valley #2: Illuminated

Not every night, but on occasion Stan would take an evening drive up and down Frost Valley, checking that the buildings and properties of the 3,000 acre estate were as they should be.

One late dusk he ask if I’d like to come along. I hopped in the the blue Scout’s shotgun seat and we headed up the valley. As we were passing the meadow where I had seen the baby skunk a flicker of light caught my peripheral vision. My mind quickly processed it to be the headlights of the Scout glancing off a discarded metal can next to the road. Just as quickly the idea was dismissed — reflected light could not have come from that angle. 

Instinctively I turned toward where the flash had come from and immediately found myself shouting out, “STAN! STOP THIS TRUCK ! ! !”

Rather alarmed, Stan slammed on the breaks as I opened the door and was jumping out as the Scout stopped. Without hesitation I was running across the meadow, my arms outstretched in joy, ignorant of where I stepped.

My heart races to this day remembering my anticipation of arriving on the far side of the meadow, nearest the fishing hole, where they were the thickest. Once there I could only twirl and twirl in exaltation — they were so beautiful and so silent and so mystical and joyful and unpredictable. They were just so present in the warm gathering darkness.

They were fireflies. firefly meadow

I was raised in the West. We have no fireflies. I had seen Disney’s Song Of The South and had figured the animated dances of randomly glowing lights in the background landscapes were as real as Sugar Plum Fairies.

When you are twenty-two years old and see actual fireflies for the first time, thick like they were in that meadow, they are one of the most elating experiences you can imagine. Magic. Lighted life, adding dimension to the night with soft glows ramping brighter and dimmer, on and off, floating randomly over and through the tall grasses.

It took me a while to calm down. My twirling slowed. My shouts of glee and Oh My God and Look! Look! Look! quieted. I caught my breath. Lowered my arms. Stood and soaked in the moment and the meadow and the magical insects. Finally I walked back to the Scout.

Stan was standing on the far side of the truck, his door open and watching my return. I had been unaware of him before but now realized he was laughing. Hard. Big, gleeful lungs-full of laughs. As we got in the Scout he confided, “I’ve only known one other guy from the West. He acted exactly the same way.”