What’s a lonely firefly to do?
I remember a time when I could look out at night from my back porch and be dazzled.
Glimmering fairy lights flashed in the darkness, skimming over the grass and the garden until dawn.
Blinking on and off, on and off, like some kind of secret code.
Numinous lights. Like the stars, too many to count.
Years went by. Decades passed. Changes came.
Still so many fireflies it seemed. Hundreds at least. Too many to count. Such a heart-lifting sight.
Five years ago on an early June evening, I looked outside expecting to see those enchanting lights in their legions again.
Something was wrong. There were not thousands. There were not hundreds.
There were maybe 40. I know. I counted them. Twice.
The next year I counted 28.
Next year, 13.
Last year, peer as I might into the dark yard, I could never spot more than 7.
This made me feel very sad, as if an annual celebration had been cancelled until further notice.
Then came this year.
Nothing in the center of the yard.
Nothing along the woodland edge.
Nothing beneath the weeping cherry.
Nothing — but wait!
Out of the corner of my eye, I caught a flash of light , sparking above the grassy hill.
Was this just a hope-fueled illusion?
No, there was the white light again. A little closer to the house this time.
One firefly. Carefully I tracked it with my eyes, at the same time looking for others .
The minutes ticked by.
The solitary firefly blinked on with faithful determination.
Blink. Pause. Blink.
But no light responded.
Yes, I know it is the height of anthropomorphism to think that this solitary firefly must feel very lonely and frustrated. But with no sign of a mate or even a rival in sight, what else would a solitary firefly feel?
Last night I caught a very quick glimpse of another light, flashing rather dimly on the border between my backyard and my neighbor’s.
At last! Two fireflies!
But peer as I did into the darkness, I never saw any sign that they drew much closer to each other.
The dimmer firefly seemed to give up after a few blinks. The brighter, solitary firefly remained, determined as ever.
I try to remain hopeful.
Maybe it’s too early in the summer for fireflies to discover each other?
Maybe some night when I take up my post as official groupie for this solitary firefly, I will see another half dozen or so of his buddies doing a little firefly dance around the cherry tree?
If I am lucky enough some evening to see that merry bacchanal, you can be sure I will step off the porch and join them!