It’s coming soon. Most likely in July. Fireflies of the Midwest. It’s capitalized because it sounds like a team to root for. Which most Nebraskans do. Growing up on a farm, I loved how the winged beetles skittered about everywhere, announcing summer was in full swing. The lightning bugs, as we called them, traveled about our farmyard as soon as the sun lazily dropped below the horizon. They seemed to tease as they glowed, “I’m over here!” Enamored and wanting badly to catch one, their lumination emanating from its underside, I followed its light or thought I did. However, as soon as I reached where I believed it to be, its glimmer disappeared, only to reveal itself somewhere else, taunting, “Here I am now, come find me.”
The single ones I pursued weren’t solo fliers. There were many lightning bugs signaling their appearance with intermittent flashes – one behind you, above you, next to a tree, in the bushes, or in the cornfield nearby. It was beautiful entertainment, no video gaming involved, just nature with no cost.
A few years ago, during a summer weekend, I drove to Nebraska from Colorado to spend time with my father and sister. Dad and Mom lived in the small town of Cairo and their single level house had a porch with a not so steady white railing to frame it. My sister lived with Dad as his caretaker once Mom died and one evening, my sister and I decided to sit outside on the porch and hash over all the subjects we’d talked about year after year. We usually added a new spin as we shared stories. Night had already arrived and within moments of sitting outside, we saw our first lightning bug appear in front of us. “Lightning bugs!” I exclaimed, having never seen one for some time. Within moments, they were everywhere. Small little stars twinkling in the yard just before us and thick in the cornfields just beyond, dashing in and out. We’d never seen so many. “Aren’t they beautiful?” my sister said. I agreed. Sharing the spectacle once more with my sister created a memory of feeling like children once more, in awe of nature’s glorious night show.