Thinkin' Back

Thinkin' Back

Lightin' Bugs

Whether you call them fireflies, lightnin’ bugs, flying glow worms, or any other name, the odds are that you played with them growing up. I remember impatiently waiting for the sun to go down during the summer and early fall just so I could spot them.

I would sit on the front porch swing, thankful for the slight breeze that might be blowing, and stare out into the fields amazed at all the blinking lights. I had my very own show each night. Lazily swinging back and forth with my toes just touching the floor, I would watch them for what seemed like hours. My grandfather, Pa John, once told me that lightnin’ bugs danced to the music that the crickets and other animals made. From that point on, I would happily try to hum along with them.

Each summer momma would make me a lightnin’ bug keeper, which consisted of a quart sized mason jar with a few holes poked in the lid and a couple of blades of grass. Armed with my jar I would set out to find friends that would keep me company at night and be my own personal night light.

While some kids would run and chase after them, I usually took a different approach. I would lie in the grass and wait for one to crawl either on me or close to where I was. In my young mind that meant that they wanted to be my friend. I would usually have 3 or 4 by the time momma would call me to come on in the house and get washed up. I would show off my jar like it was better than any blue-ribbon prize and get loving and indulgent smiles and praises from both parents.

Just before I would go to sleep that night I would watch them until my eyes just couldn’t stay open any longer. They would always crawl around the inside of the jar, blinking their lights off and on. I would pat the jar and wish them sweet dreams.

Each morning I would wake up to an empty jar by my bed. After all, lightnin’ bugs can’t stay in a jar forever. They have other children to visit and other fields to light up, or at least that’s what momma would tell me. When I got older she finally told me that she would have to either let them go at night or she would have had a sad daughter the next morning when they didn’t survive the night.

Recently I was talking to a group of kids at a family get together and we were all talking about our favorite things to do during the summer. I heard sleeping late because school was out, getting to the next level of a video game, and the like. When I asked if they planned on catching any lightnin’ bugs, you would have thought that I had sprouted horns by the way they all looked at me.

Mind made up, I promptly picked up my purse and headed down to the local dollar store to pick up a case of mason jars, a hammer, and a screw driver…the latter two for poking holes in the lid. If I thought they looked at me funny when I mentioned the lightnin’ bugs the first time, then when they saw my haul and I explained what we were going to do I had another thing coming.

It took me a little while to get them willing to at least try to catch one, but they finally gave in when they saw me laughing as I was chasing them around and trying to catch them. One after the other they would put their phones down, grab a jar, and find out first hand just how elusive the little beauties can be.

That was a night that I won’t soon forget and one that they still talk about.

When’s the last time you tried to catch a lightnin’ bug?

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