Those of you who might know slave drew might recognize that it’s nearly impossible to spend time with him without learning a fair amount about birds, animals, national parks, and the life of a whale. It’s his thing.
I often think, though, that I’d MUCH prefer that, if he’s going to memorize facts, they are facts about nature or animals. If he memorized facts about NASCAR or pro football, I might have to smack him. In a bad way.
So, we were in Florida in April and I routed us through a different course on the way home. Normally we’d have caught I65 at Nashville and taken it all the way back to Louisville, but we both dislike the truck traffic, so we cut through the middle of Tennessee and caught 65 north of Bowling Green.
Neither of us had ever gone that route before, and it was really lovely. It was slower, but we stopped in places we’d not have stopped and saw things we’d not have seen, so there are worse things.
I was particularly thinking about fireflies last night because one plopped himself down on some papers I was working on. He was escorted outside, where he could search for his mate in peace.
I love fireflies.
I had never seen fireflies until I moved to upstate New York when I was 20. We don’t have them in the desert. I’d also never seen a squirrel – another thing we don’t have there. Jack rabbits, snakes, scorpions, yes. Squirrels and fireflies, no.
The whole detoured route through central Tennessee and Kentucky was made worthwhile, or rather, even more worthwhile, by one single incident.
drew was driving and I was just looking out the window. It was probably about 9pm, and we had just crossed over the Kentucky state line. We were in the middle of the country, driving on some state route that was taking us through small towns, past farms and fields.
It was dark, pitch dark in fact, because it was country, an area with no street lights and only the occasional window of light visible. Farm country, too, where people go to bed and get up early.
We were driving by a field, a large one that was at least the size of a couple of city blocks, and at first I thought, “Did someone somehow string little Christmas lights all though this enormous field?”
We stopped the car and got out because it was so amazing, and rather magical.
The field was full of fireflies. Hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of fireflies.
I don’t think any single firefly was more than a foot away from another firefly. If you’d been able to cut out a cubic yard of the air above the field, I think you’d have had at least 50 or 100 fireflies in that area.
And they were blinking their little hearts out.
It’s the kind of thing that won’t show in a photo, there’s no way to really see it, except with your own eyes.
Everywhere you looked were more flashes of light than you could count, flashing on and off, moving as they flashed.
We had been in a number of amazing places on the trip, seen ancient mangrove and cypress, glades of fern, enchanting spots that made it easy to understand believing in fairies or sprites. The fireflies simply emphasized that. Flashes of light, everywhere you looked.
There were other fields on the way home, and there were a lot of fireflies in all of them, but none as full as that one, none as astonishing as that field out in central southern Kentucky.
I love fireflies.