It was the hottest day of the year.
We had set up camp slowly, easing through the thick air and required motions to raise tents, fill an airbed, stopping to refresh with cold water and a pause in the shade. Later, I lay on that airbed, praying for a breeze. We had left the fly off the tent in the hopes that any gust of wind would cool us as we slept.
As dusk eased its sleepy way into dark, I lay in impossible heat and tried to rest. Somewhere, a mosquito bumped angrily against canvas; there would be bites in the morning. Eyes closed, I turned to tracing the sounds of a campsite. In the distance a baby cried, dog barked. No birds now, though earlier the raucous lot had entertained: mourning doves, robins, jays; a cardinal had plucked orange berries from a bush with regal ease.
Somewhere in the darkening light was something unknown. A low bzzzzz, followed by a cheerful tickety-tick. I scrunched my face, listening and inching closer to the slight breeze that pushed its way through the screen mesh. Beside me was the steady breathing of a man at rest. Above me came bzzzzzzz, tickety-tick. I opened my eyes.
They took my breath away.
Above me, on the branches that arched lazily over the dome of our tent, was firefly upon firefly. To a music all their own, they danced (lit and unlit in turn) across branch and bush and leaf. Even without glasses I could see the beauty and wonder of this display.
I fell asleep that night to the flickering dance of a firefly, with a smile on my lips and the brush of a cooling breeze on hot skin.
Later, recounting the story to a friend, I was taken aback as she shrugged and said, ‘I have fireflies in my backyard every night.’
Considering it further, I wondered if my delight was misplaced. Such a simple thing, the firefly. There were thousands of them at the park that weekend; a dozen or so dancing above my head? Surely not a big deal?
I’m realizing, though, that sometimes we need to spend less time searching and learning and more time remembering. Retracing the known, renewing our interest and wonder in what is rather than yearning after what might be.
And sometimes there is wonder in the flickering of fireflies against the deep blue of a night sky. There is wonder in the beads of water on plump, juicy cherries; in the play of light, the gnarled shape of a tree branch, or the green gleam of lake water beneath a hazy sky.
Sometimes we just need to open our eyes to see it.
Thank you so much for the wee break, friends!
It’s good to be back!
What wonder-full thing has snatched your breath away recently?