Tonight, while working in the garden after work, it was starting to get dark. As long as I can see my hand in front of my face, I'll stay out there. That is, until the mosquitoes chase me in, which they did tonight.
As I was walking back up to the house, I noticed something out of the corner of my eye. I turned to look and saw nothing. I kept walking, and then I saw it again. This time, I really SAW it and I couldn't believe it. It was a lightning bug! And then there was another one! I keep track every year of the approximate date that they first appear and this is about two weeks early.
I love lightning bugs and seeing them light up in the yard means summer to me. For the next couple of months, they'll float around in the night air and make me smile. I can't imagine summer without them. But apparently, even in the United States, they're not everywhere. And I guess some people call them fireflies, but not around here.
When I was a kid, I did the usual grotesque things that kids do with them: made rings, wrote on the sidewalk with them, captured them in a jar and kept it in my bedroom for a night light. And when our girls were little, I took them to a local woods that had a lane that went back into it so they could see the lightning bugs twinkling like 'diamonds in the sky'. The woods have a much larger population of them than open fields or yards, probably due to the higher humidity there and the warmer temperatures at night.
I remember one summer not too long ago, when Romie and I sat on the front porch late at night, watching the incredible light show in the sky. It was the 4th of July, and there were thunderstorms in the distance. We were sitting out there to watch the fireworks that were being set off in Fort Wayne, Indiana, 35 miles away. When you live where the terrain is as flat as a tabletop, you really can see that far in circumstances like this.
Anyway, there were private little fireworks displays dotted around the countryside that we could see, as well as those in Fort Wayne. There was the lightning from the approaching storms, and the lightning bugs. I'll never forget that night and what a triple treat that was, sitting there watching that.
I just read that lightning bugs eat slugs. Now I love them even more.
*Photos from National Geographic  and Matt BenDaniel