My favorite thing about summer are the lightning bugs. They’re soothing to watch and the very sight of them fills me with nostalgia. They take me back. I remember summer nights running across the grass with my cousins in tow, catching and releasing hundreds of those little bugs. I remember hot nights with no air conditioning when I’d awaken for no reason and stare out the window into the black night, only the flash of lighting in the distance and the yellow glow of the bugs cutting through the darkness.
I love that no matter where I am in the world, lightning bugs are there. City, country, from one state to another – they greet me like an old friend each and every summer. Even as a child who was afraid of the dark, I got a thrill from staring into the pitch of bluish-black shadow of the woods, watching as the bugs lit up. First I’d see just a few twinkling in the distance, but as my eyes adjusted to the night, I’d realize that there were hundreds, even thousands of them, gently fluttering through the thick summer air, their tail ends flashing out a message that I wasn’t meant to understand. They are the only bug that I ever want to catch or hold in my hand. And I’ve learned that you’re never too old to catch a lightning bug. There’s still a certain amount of joy from trapping one between your palms and peeking in, watching it light up a few times before you open your hands wide and release it back into the night. It’s a pure, innocent pleasure. Whether I’m four or thirty-four, I find comfort that each summer, they’re there. Some summers I don’t see them at all because I’m too busy, too distracted by life to stop and appreciate them. But not this summer. This summer, I am a child of the dawn. I come home in the quiet of morning and before I step inside my home, I stop and watch the flashes of luminescence as they dance across the courtyard. And I smile.