When I was a small child we lived in New York, the Summer nights were warm and sticky. The oppressive weather could have taken the fun out of summertime, but there were still enough festivals and events to attend in the summer to keep a family pleasantly occupied.
I remember being in our backyard listening to the hum of the nearby street lamp and seeing these small specks of glowing lights. They moved about like magic and there were so many. From afar you could think that they were small fairies dancing about enjoying the summer night. They had me intrigued, it was like frosting to cake, seemingly unnecessary but they added a special something to the humid summer night. This memory has stayed with me into adulthood, and recollecting it now seems bittersweet. I now live in Southern California and have yet to see any fireflies at night here. The night air is still warm, but there are no fairies to be found. I suppose thinking about it now makes the present Summer nights a little less enchanted, and those few childhood memories seem that much more magical.
Thinking about the events, sights, and moments that mark the signs of summer, I wondered if anyone else shared this sort of memory of fireflies. If they too were came across like small guardians of the night. I thought of the past time of collecting fireflies in jars. While I can understand the child’s desire to keep them close, I never thought it kind to keep them captive, so it was something I did not partake in. I do know that in Japan fireflies (ho-ta-ru in Japanese) are also a sign of Summer. In their culture they are used to signify part of the Summer season, they are a part of their summer festivals, and a common theme within their anime and drama. It is nice to know that someone else found a special place in their hearts for my small friends.
I consider the idea that one firefly glowing by itself may make you realize the vastness of the universe and your place in it as he tries to light the night all by himself. Whereas a swarm of them can create a collective this warm glow, much the same way good friends do if in a less literal sense. I suppose it is something that has a nostalgic feel to it. It evokes the idea that fireflies must have lit the night before we had electricity, probably before we had fire, and I again wonder where they are. I do hope that one summer night our paths will cross again.