My brother and I run from the house. The sweet fragrance of freshly mown hay drifts on the evening breeze. The whack of the screen door, slamming behind us, lets us know that we are in for a scolding when we return. We race across the damp grass, raindrops from an earlier storm soaking our bare feet. The smooth, hard glass of the jars we hold is cool against our skin. Laughter echoes over the hollow, rebounding from the distant hills as we make our way toward the marshy pond across the road.
The long, soft grass brushes our legs, tickling, as we move toward the basin. The tiny, twinkling lights at the pond’s mossy edge, urge us on. As we wade deeper, mud sucks at our toes and oozes between them—our jars swoop to and fro in our attempt to catch the elusive fireflies. After several tries, we have each captured a few tiny fairy lights. We quickly screw the tin lids onto the jars, metal from the air holes scraping rough against our hands.
Time passes. The glow of the twilight deepens and turns to darkness. The full moon casts beams of light that dance on the rippling surface of the water. We lay back, the dampness seeping through our clothes, cool and refreshing after the hot, humid day. Not a care is given to the yellowish-green stains that will have to be scrubbed until they vanish. We have eyes only for the flickering fireflies that zigzag over the water, gently lapping at our feet.
The rustle of flapping wings draws our attention—then silence. A great gray owl glides, wings outstretched, on the wind currents, its silhouette vivid in the soft, golden glow of the moon. Then, a sharp chirp, chirp, chirp, and a bat glides by searching out a feast of buzzing mosquitoes.
No words are spoken. We lie in complete silence, listening to the night sounds. Bullfrogs thrum from across the marsh. A nightingale chits somewhere in the stark stand of trees to the north that tower against the night sky. In the distance, a train’s wheels click-clack on the rails. The engine nears the crossing. The mournful whistle wails a shrill warning.
We roll onto our stomachs, the cool moisture soaking us, to watch the spirited fairy lights in their glass cages. The fireflies dance feverishly trying to escape their translucent prison.
Dad’s voice carries faintly over the breeze. The moment has ended. We twist the tops off the jars and allow our captives their flight to freedom. They dart away into the humid, night air, becoming lost in the dozens of other sparkling lights over the bog.
We speed, like arrows, through the dewy grass and up the lane, gravel digging into the tender flesh of our feet. We pay no attention to the biting cinders and sharp stones. In our minds, we’re back at the pond, still wrapped in the magic of the enchanted evening.
I hope you've enjoyed traveling back to the evenings of my childhood. Enjoy the rest of the weekend. ~Blessings, Mary~