Last weekend, a friend and her youngest daughter came to visit me. Sarah, whom I met through blogging, has become a daughter to me. Age-wise she is more like a granddaughter, but the feelings of mother/daughter seem mutual. Her four children call me Grandma Dee, and that is such a gift to someone who has never had children.
Their visit delighted me in many ways, but it was two typical Missouri evenings I spent in their company that gave me something to ponder and embrace. Here’s what happened: Saturday evening, Sarah and I sat talking on the patio when suddenly she looked beyond me. The expression on her face mixed wonder and concern.
“Dee,” she said, “see those sparks by that fence? Is it on fire?”
I looked and saw that the lightning bugs were out. “Sarah,” I said, “there’re just fireflies.”
“Fireflies. Lightning bugs.”
“I’ve never seen anything like this before!” she exclaimed. Then, “Katie, come and see the fireflies. Hurry!”
Seven-year-old Katie came running through the house, thrust open the patio door, and burst outside.
“Look!” her mother said, “Look at the fireflies!”
Katie stood still as a statue, gazing outward. When several fireflies twinkled at the same time, she yelled, “Mom! What are they?”
“Fireflies. Bugs that light up!”
As dusk became dark, Katie chased the lightning bugs. I got her a clean mayonnaise jar and punctured its lid so she could engage in the game I’d so enjoyed as a child. Her mother and I sat on the porch, watching her run from one side of the back yard to another in her excited hunt. It was like watching a ballet. She ran and leaped and twisted in the air in her attempt to capture fireflies without squashing them.
“I got another one!” she cried out as she came running to where I held the jar. Carefully, she placed the lightning bug in it and I screwed shut the lid.
For over an hour that night and the next, she became acquainted with the wonder of fireflies. The second night she caught eighteen. One by one they twinkled in the jar that she held up in the dark night.
When the lightning bugs returned to their own homes and left the yard, Katie examined her jar carefully, commenting on their red heads and their yellow tails. Finally, she screwed off the lid of the jar. Wishing them good-bye and good luck, she watched as they flew away.
Those two evenings, wonder captured her and her mother and me. Fireflies didn’t live in Idaho where their home was. They’d never before seen these wonderful bugs. Their awe prompted mine. For years, I’d seen fireflies as an adult and never felt the wonder of childhood. Katie gave that back to me.
The evening of the day they returned home, I went out into the backyard and looked up at a sky lit by stars. There, too, was a wonder I’d forgotten. So much beauty that has become so ordinary. I want to reclaim the miracles that surround me.
Photographs from Wikipedia.