Monday, June 04, 2007


photo credit:
USDA Forest Service Archives.
Gerald J. Lenhard, photographer

The walk that I planned to take early this morning got postponed.....later....and later.
It was twilight when I finally made it out the door with my oldest daughter, Melody.
Usually I am too tired by this time of the evening to be as alert to the world of nature as I would be in the morning. But tonight was special.

We saw our first fireflies!!

They always give me a thrill, like friends returning after a long season away. These nocturnal flashers evoke in me a sense of nostalgia: reminding me of long games of hide-n-seek on warm summer evenings, birthday picnics outside with friends, my own children begging to stay outside just a little longer so as to catch the light in a jar.

The technical term for the chemical light produced by lightning bugs is "bioluminescence". The word feels wonderful on the tongue, doesn't it? You can almost guess its meaning by taking it apart. "Bios" is Greek for life. And "lumen" is Latin for light. The scientific (family) name is equally descriptive: Lampyridae.

This occasion calls for poetry, certainly. Here is one by Robert Frost.

Here come real stars to fill the upper skies,
And here on earth come emulating flies,
That though they never equal stars in size,
(And they were never really stars at heart)
Achieve at times a very star-like start.
Only, of course, they can't sustain the part.

And another, just-for-fun. It is by Jack Prelutsky.

The firefly is a funny bug,

He hasn't any mind.

He blunders all the way through life

With his headlight on behind.

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