Friday, June 29, 2012

Stars at Heart

 The fireflies twinkling among the leaves,
make the stars wonder.
                                --Rabindranath Tagore

Swiss psychologist Carl Jung coined the word "synchronicity"
to explain the phenomenon of events coinciding in time
even though they are not causally related.
It seems that I experience this kind of thing quite frequently.
For example, just recently, references to fireflies kept popping up.

The first occured the other night when my husband and I
went for another night-time walk
to the small neighborhood marina at the Elizabeth River.
There were lots of fireflies that night;
and we remarked on the intense flashing of their bright green lights
as they struck the darkness.

A day or so later, I came upon
a article "14 Fun Facts about Fireflies";
 the day after, the electricity went out at my house for several hours.
Hmm. Fireflies, facts about fireflies, and no lights--
it all seemed like synchronicity to me.

And I was even more certain that was so after I read Fun Fact #3:
"In some places, at some times, fireflies synchronize their flashing."
An interesting fact, especially since I never noticed fireflies
synchronizing their light displays
even though I've seen a lot of fireflies.
But indeed they do.
Here's a two-minute news video showing synchronous fireflies
in the Great Smoky Mountains:

Seeing all those people in the video
as they trooped into the woods to see
fireflies lighting the night reassures me
that people still have their priorities straight.
What is a more worthy use of time than enjoying nature?

One enjoyable activity of my childhood
was catching fireflies, or "lightening bugs" as we called them,
 with my brothers and sisters.
There seemed to be hundreds of bright fireflies back then.
I remember the firefly lights as being pink and blue and green.
That must have been imagination, as I can find no scientific evidence
that firefly lights blink any spectrum colors 
besides what the Smithsonian article noted as
"yellow, green, or orange."

I think ours here in the Shire are only green-lighted ones.
We probably see so many because fireflies are most prevalent 
near marshes on very warm nights.
Apparently woodlands and wetlands here in the Southeast,
as in the Great Smoky Mountains,
are favorable for firefly growth and mating. 
According to the web site,
firefly larvae grow in damp or muddy areas
and subsist on snails, grubs, and earthworms.
All conditions that we are rich in.
The larvae also glow like the adult fireflies do.
That's why fireflies are sometimes called glow worms.

Watching fireflies glowing as the day turns to night
 is a peaceful pursuit.
Here's a silent video showing fireflies in a Nebraska field at twilight:

It's hard to imagine, but not all fireflies light up.
From about the western part of Kansas to the west coast in the US,
fireflies have no light at all.
 I find that sad, for there is nothing more magical than seeing
hundreds of tiny firefly lights flickering off and on
in the darkness of a summer night.
 Title "Stars at Heart" is a line from the Robert Frost poem, "Fireflies in the Garden" 

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