Nearly every night, there is a meeting called to order promptly at 8:45, in my front yard. It’s the Council of Sweaty-Headed Neighborhood Kids Who Are Trying To Put Off Bedtime As Long As Possible, meeting for the serious task of catching as many fireflies as their old pickle jars can hold.
Every night the routine is the same: the Council comes to order with a squeal of joy when the first "twinkle" appears. It’s a summer symphony: the slamming of jar lids, shouts of "I got one!", wails of anguish when one gets away. There is the thump of little bodies colliding in the dusk, the hiss of Off! spray, and the ever-present song of the cicada humming behind it all.
And there is the same conversation every time: do we keep our fireflies, or let them go? They’ll live longer in the wild, but oh! the tempting joy of a pickle jar of fireflies on a bedside table in the dark.
As a testament to the charity of children, the fireflies are usually released, often with a naming ceremony (strangely, there’s always a Larry–why is there always a Larry?) and a bittersweet farewell. The Council adjourns for baths and bedtimes, and porch lights flicker on.
Goodnight, Larry. Until tomorrow.