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July 11, 2014
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Fireflies in a jar

This 1965 postcard from Camp Arrowhead is a perfect illustration of the good old days of frolicking, fishing and fireflies.


“How soon?” I’d ask, over and over, until mom started asking the same, wagging her finger at me and suggesting that patience was a virtue. “Once the fireflies arrive,” she’d say, “then you’ll know the time is near.” Fireflies. Depending on where you live, they are also called lightning bugs, but their universal appeal is undeniable. They flicker and weave through the tall grass, sometimes soaring into the trees, and still to this day, make me giddy with childlike wonder. Imagine my surprise then, to observe them appear last Friday night, a good four weeks earlier than anticipated. Just before leaving the house to see ‘struck’ at the NACL in Highland Lake (www.nacl.org) I heard the Wonder Dog whining and crying at her lookout, which oversees a vast field behind the barn. Peering into the dusk, I saw them.

Amused that the dancing lights were alarming the dog, I raced out the door and reveled. Instantly, I was seven years old again and stood there, hugging myself, grinning, laughing and recalling the nights that Steve and I set off, canning jar in hand, hoping to capture a few before setting them free again, to enchant others down the block.

As for the show at NACL, it was a multimedia extravaganza and truth be told, slightly perplexing, but I left the theatre with my head filled with thought-provoking imagery that played across the stage, and there are moments that linger, much like the lightning bug.

The next day, I escorted the pup to her guest appearance at the Sullivan County Pet-A-Thon, hosted by Girl Scout Troop 705 at Morningside Park in Hurleyville, NY. The SPCA (sullivanspca.com) was present along with specialists in animal nutrition, first aid and veterinary care, while the girls held a ‘toy-making’ workshop to benefit the organization. As Dharma played with a puppy awaiting adoption, I shared a childhood memory with the troop. After collecting the lightning bugs, mom would let us bring them into my room and she’d open the windows an inch or two, turn off the lights and shut the door. Steve and I would open the jar and the fireflies would emerge, blinking on and off as we’d drift off to sleep, before they found their way out, gone by morning, free to mate in the open air. I think I might punch some holes in a lid tonight and do it again. Camp may be behind me, but you’re never too old to feel like a kid. IMHO.