Like all children growing up in the Midwest, I spent untold outdoor summer hours watching lightning bugs (otherwise known as fireflies, species photinus). Just after dark, in any grassy or brushy area, especially mid-June to mid-July, the males of these little beetles fly a few feet over the ground, flashing a bright yellow-green light in their abdomens to attract females in the grass below. The sight of the little blinking lights in the late darkness of a hot summer night is beyond entrancing.
For the last 22 years I have lived in a high rise, 11 stories off the ground, too far to see the little flashes going on below. Most often when I go out on a summer evening I drive my car out of the garage and head off to someplace covered with cement, and so, these days, I have to make a point of seeking out the lightning bugs. Last night presented such an opportunity, and sure enough, there, in the grassy baseball field next to a local elementary school, the males were doing their part to ensure perpetuation of one of Nature’s most pleasurable little wonders.
Life’s been very stressful lately, both at home (more about that later) and the office (nothing I’m not paid to deal with, but a lot, nonetheless). Watching the slow-mo scintillations of the lightning bugs last evening heartened me, lifted me, the Earth is not being completely destroyed by acid rain or greenhouse emissions or gargantuan oil spills after all.