Fragments and fireflies

As I was reading a chapter of a book to my youngest son tonight, my husband slipped into the room and said “Come quickly, it’s something special”. It was a long and lovely Friday evening and I was eager to get my son to sleep as I still needed to bake a birthday cake (for his party with friends tomorrow; his actual day was a month ago!), but I could tell this was worth disrupting the bedtime routine for.

Once downstairs we looked through the double doors that lead out to our back garden, and saw intermittent flashes. It took a while for my eyes to adjust and I didn’t have my glasses on (which are, in fact, for distance), but gradually those flashes became clearer. Fireflies!

My husband says he hasn’t seen fireflies since he was about 16, and the last time I can remember properly seeing them was when I was about eight or nine, in Ossining, New York where my grandparents lived. I have a hazy yet firm impression of standing on the sidewalk near their house in the evening, watching the fireflies. The only other things I remember from that time is riding in my uncle’s taxi (both my grandfather and his youngest son drove a taxi in the town) and standing in the kitchen of my grandparents’ house listening to the phone ring. It had that classic old ring, a proper telephone ring, and whenever I have heard a phone just like it (which is incredibly rare these days), it drags me right back to that kitchen. It’s an oddly lonely sound in the context that I remember it – tied to waiting and listening quietly – and I don’t know why.

There are many wonderful things that we have experienced since moving to the country, but fireflies are right at the top of the list.

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