Walking back toward the house after securing the chickens for the night, the young darkness is alive – electrified with the twinkling of fireflies. It happens every night this time of year – especially dramatic in the tall rough grass around the front trees, as if the stars in the sky had condescended to kneel down to human scale affording us earth-bound ones a better view. Those with a quick hand and a childlike sense of wonder can capture one and contain the lightening in a jar, but either because I've grown older or slower (I pray it's merely the latter) I content myself with watching; marveling at the magic just outside our door.
I suppose there are fireflies in the city, but I rarely saw them in all of our years there. Perhaps it was that all the street lights and porch lights and headlights around camouflaged them hiding in plain sight. Or perhaps I was too busy to pay them any mind – or once parked inside and the garage door motored down behind me I never reemerged until morning. We miss things, I know, wherever we are. Out here in the rural recesses -- absent cable, satellite TV, pavement and street lights -- I'm sure we miss plenty.
But not the fireflies. Fireflies we see. And it's something close to magic.
After several decades of illegality, and amidst great controversy, the Governor signed a bill this spring, passed by the legislature, legalizing the sale of fireworks in Iowa. Curiously, the new law allows municipalities to ban the USE of such explosives, but not their SALE; making me wonder whose interests the new law is intended to serve. But I digress. The result of it all will almost surely be that the afternoons this 4th of July weekend will be crackling with strings of Black Cats reaching the ends of their fuses, and the nights with fizzing sparklers and the bursts of Roman candles and bottle rockets.
It seems to me that it would have been a lot simpler – and cheaper and quieter – to just encourage everyone to drive down a country road, park near a field, turn off the headlights, and watch nature’s own fireworks display.
And I do encourage it. You might find yourself spontaneously humming softly about “rockets red glare” and “bombs bursting in air.”
You might even find yourself trying to catch one in a jar…
…giggling, pretending, if only for the evening, that we are all children.
But even if only for the evening, who knows where it could lead?