Monday, July 6, 2009

Lighting up the Night

The past is beautiful
Like the darkness between the fireflies --Mason Jennings

Fireflies are out in the evenings as darkness sets in, blinking their famous mating displays.

I'm not going to pretend I have tons of happy kid memories of putting fireflies in jars and making lanterns to keep all night, or anything like that. I remember watching them as a kid, sometimes catching one in my hand. But my best memory of fireflies came when I was in college. I remember sitting one warm June Minnesota evening during finals -- because of this, I always think of fireflies as a June occurrence, although I didn't see many of them this year until July.

But anyhow, we were sitting atop the hill by Evans, overlooking the athletic fields, and across in the arb a million fireflies began blinking. So many it was like slow motion, peaceful fireworks. And the friend I was with, he was just amazed. "What is that?" he asked, truly in awe.

Me, dismissively: "Fireflies," with an implied, "duh."

But he had never seen them, he insisted. He had grown up in Arizona. I guess they don't have fireflies there. And so, as an almost adult, this kid-magic was new to him. I have never seen anyone, at any age, as excited or reverential about anything in nature. And we watched them, and I remembered... that it's important not to take things for granted. That it doesn't take a child, as some cliches may tell you, to remind you to see things anew. That we can see things anew, that every time I see something it is new. It is in a new place, a new circumstance. It has something new to teach me.

I am amazed by little things. When plants grow. When buds explode into flowers and flowers to seeds. I touch the same silphium leaf every day and I love its cool roughness every time. New, different, miraculous every time.

There aren't as many fireflies here as at Carleton that night (I wonder if there are as many there?) but they still make me stop and watch, and remind me of this lesson. Thanks, fireflies! (And thanks, A.)

1 comment:

  1. I love reminders like that. We stop to look at full moons and flowers too.