Catching Lightning Bugs
Copyright 2023 by Sara Etgen-Baker
Photo of Granddad courtesy of the author..
I was a little girl, Granddad and I spent many summer evenings
together sipping lemonade and swinging back and forth on his vintage
metal porch glider. On one such evening, I sat with him; and we
watched the sun sink lower in the Missouri sky. The trees gradually
became silhouettes against a newly silver sky. I sat with him
silently watching their branches sway in the wind. Soon it grew dark,
and the first sound of the nighttime creatures came—the
chirping crickets and the buzzing mosquitoes.
out of nowhere a mysterious yellow twinkling appeared in the night,
quick flickers and crackles of incandescent light too fast for the
naked eye. The soft warm glow of lightning bugs sliced through the
darkness, dipping beneath the black walnut trees. I was enchanted
and imagined Granddad and I had discovered the lair of a great
to catch some lightning bugs?” Granddad asked, a smile
spreading over his face.
that magic?” My voice quivered with excitement. “Can it
looked at my face; leapt out of the swing; and fetched a Mason jar
from his work shed, its lid pierced with holes. We walked barefoot
into the darkness, following the flickering lights. I ran toward
them hoping to capture them, but in my eagerness they escaped. Granddad
cupped his hands and lunged.
he said, making a peep hole into his hand. With my face pressed
against his thumbs, I caught my first close-up glimpse of a firefly.
jar grew full; and when Granddad tucked me in that night, he placed
it beside my bed. The glow of the lightning bugs mesmerized me; and
long after everyone else was asleep, I was still wide awake watching
the golden lights flare in the darkness.
so many years later, I’ve forgotten most of the dolls and toys
of my childhood. But the night Granddad and I caught lightning bugs
and made them into a nightlight is forever imprinted in me. And I’m
reminded that there’s so much ordinary magic dancing around the
of the message
won't know where to send it.)
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