We only do it once a year, its very simplicity sets the stage for a memorable evening.
“Firefly Picnic” has become an annual tradition. A salute to summer with just my two neighbor children, a boy,11, and a girl, 7, and myself. They are marvelous, intelligent, kind children.
Other family members wander in and out but it is really just the three of us. We eat happily, waiting for it to get dark enough to temporarily gather the magical insects then release them to continue to light up other summer evenings.
We frequently lie back and do some serious cloud watching while waiting for the first blips of magic to appear.
This year we went right to dessert and had huge sundaes with mounds of whipped cream before we went out to greet the evening. My dog happily accompanied us as we meandered to the elementary school near our houses. We found fireflies everywhere – under trees, against the stone wall, in the grass and even near the building.
Part of this yearly ritual is devoted to celebrating ourselves – for doing it – for taking time to experience the wonder of fireflies and our friendship, all wrapped up in the warmth of a summer night. This year we talked of how we hoped our tradition would continue even into my young neighbors' adulthood and my doddering old age.
It is treasured time. I thank God for it.
Harry, my dog, and I walked along the train tracks above the park. I knew I wasn't going to stop this time until I saw it.
Woods on either side of the tracks made for a beautiful walk. There was a trestle over the wide creek where I scooped Harry up into my arms and carried him, worried that his little paws would slip through the spaces between the ties.
The sun brought solace as its diminishing light lit up the water with a hopeful glow.
It was so real to me, that magical night 18 years ago.
Holding hands as we walked – we happily talked about our lives, soon to be joined in marriage. The warmth of our joined hands was as important to me as the beautiful love making in which we reveled.
And then he spotted them, what seemed like hundreds of fireflies lighting up the grove next to the stream. He was from England. He said he had never seen them before. I loved that he was enchanted by them. I loved him.
Firefly meadow – that's what he dubbed that beautiful spot.
Harry and I were almost there. Then I saw it -- the beauty had not diminished. Lush green, helped by lots of early summer rain, framed the space. The tears were no longer welling, they were now gently streaming down my face.
It was too early for fireflies. I didn't linger long.
I don't linger in that pain, that sorrow. In the beginning when his betrayal was made manifest I just needed to find a way to keep going through the onslaught to my senses, my reality. There was sobbing hysteria but I wouldn't call it sorrow. I was helped by good, loving friends and family.
In the grove I met sorrow, a deep grief.
My fear of hurt will not let me entertain, or at least not for very long, even the thought of allowing someone to bring me to that place of love, to feel a large hand encircling mine-- to experience God through a firefly, sharing deep excitement at a tiny gift.
As we walked out of the grove I was startled by a young deer, just yards away, leaping over the tracks to the other side and up the wooded hill. Her graceful dance was beautiful to watch.
Another gift. When we walked back, beyond the meadow, she was just standing quietly, now assured that we meant no harm.
I will always be grateful to my God who did not abandon me.