Thursday, July 10, 2008


The fireflies in Tennessee are fat and slow, larger than the ones I grew up with. They diverted traffic near Gatlinburg earlier this year because of them. People come to the Park to view them, lazily flying through the mountains, settling on the trees like fairy lanterns held aloft.

How odd it is to me that people travel to see what lights up my yard.

When I was a girl, the arrival of the fireflies in the summer in South Carolina was something wonderful. But they were swift and wily there. Hard to catch and each one you put in your jar , the Maxwell House coffee jar that you poked holes in the top so the bugs could breath, was a hard earned prize. You were lucky if you could secret five of them away to take up to bed where you would hold them under the covers and watch them blink and flicker. They smelled like honey and some unnameable essence of bug.

But in the cool nights and darkness--deep mountain darkness where the sky was splashed with stars--they would slow down. I'd spend my days playing with spring lizards and catching crawdads, then at night, sneaked out of Aunt Baby Dear's house to catch those fat slow bugs. Oh, I could fill a jar to brimming with them. They'd even land right on you, just as slow and happy as you please.

They are synchronous here. Glowing green, fat and lazy. Going off like a visible heartbeat. Keeping time with the night. Firefly.

If you'd like to see an awesome photo of the Smoky Mountain Fireflies, check out Judd Patterson's Elkmont Fireflies on Flikr.


  1. threecollie said...
    Beautiful! You describe that never quite outgrown fascination so well. Our daughter (aged 20) brought one in the house on her shirt the other night and we much enjoyed its flashing around the place
    Jo said...
    Thanks for the Flickr link, Rosie. We have lightening bugs here that are big, fat and slow (much like me at times) and I take a walk down memory lane every time is sit and watch them. I have never seen a swam of them like the photo shows. My grandchildren would go ape over them.
    vilepanda said...
    I've been following your blog for awhile now, so I guess this is hello! The firefly picture is beautiful.

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