BY KIERAN LINDSEY, PhD
Walking through the park at dusk the other night, I saw a single spark. Then another. Soon there were too many to count, hovering in the airspace between my chin and my ankles, lighting my way past the lake, the band stand, and the Park House.
Who needs a time machine when you have memory to transport you to another place, another you? Those sparks must have kindled a few synapses, because suddenly I’m six-years-old again, running with my best friend Cindi through freshly cut grass that envelopes us in the signature scent of a suburban summer while staining the soles of our feet DayGlo green. Wild with excitement at being allowed to stay outside after dark, we’re relentless, ruthless, giggling predators intent on imprisoning lightning bugs in an empty Miracle Whip® jar.
If you live in the eastern half of the U.S., tell your neighbor or coworker you watched fireflies last night and see what happens. I’ll bet you, dollars to donuts, their faces will soften and glow as if bathed in the bioluminescence of an impromptu nightlight. It’s Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past all over again, but with Coleoptera instead of cookies.
That’s right, they’re not flies and not technically bugs either. They’re beetles, a group that doesn’t usually garner much affection from the human race. Let’s face it—we like our non-human animals to have fur or feathers and large, liquid, simple eyes. If you can make your butt blink on warm summer evenings, however, folks are willing to see you in a new light.