Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Fireflies

 


The sky seems like a watercolor love story.  Blue and crimson dancing in each other's arms, their passion spilling over the horizon in a tangle of violet and tangerine ecstasy.  Diana Krall whispers in my ear (Quiet Nights is an amazing accompaniment to a glass of wine lingering on such a porch on such a night as this) and the breeze brings murmurs of rosemary and sweet basil as it passes by.  Evening has come, shrouding our neighborhood in her velvet cloak of hush...she stills the pulse, blurs the parameters of the day.

There, beyond the rail, the flash that causes my heart to skip.  Memories...

Raised on that Colorado ranch, half of a mountain 9,000 feet above sea level, was a life...apart.  Isolation incarnate.  No television, no neighbors, three hundred animals and eighty acres and more than my share of loneliness, I fear.  This was battled (as often is) by the magic of the literary world -- adventure and fantasy became my addictions of choice.  I flew through the heavens on gauzy wings that swept me from the reality of mucking pens and milking goats. (while I am forever grateful for such an upbringing now, what child relishes such things?)  Fast forward years and the farm was sold, my mother's health required a lower elevation; Dad had found something suitable...we trekked across the country in a whirlwind of possibility to the level lands of Maryland.

I was terrified.

Society awaited.  Cars and teenagers and excitement unleashed.  A long journey, exhaustion, and the first night There.  A "there" with no horses, no chickens....and no sleep.  I wandered the unfamiliar carpeted halls, the rooms dimly lit by streetlights beyond curtained glass - something that stopped me in my tracks in and of itself, total foreign currency. 

A glass of water, sipped in a stranger's kitchen filled with ghosts unknown.  The silk of my nightgown chilly...air-conditioning, another exotic.  And there, standing at the kitchen sink, my gaze was captured by the flickers of light that glimmered in the mist over the pond at the end of the yard.  An incandescent dance that swirled beneath the stars. 

We had fairies!

What other conclusion was there??  My heart pounding as if to burst from my chest, the glass abandoned on the counter, I stumbled down the stairs to the back door and out into the damp June night.  It was magic, that moment.  Still, my heart remembers the joy as I chased the lights down the long hill, the grass wet beneath my bare feet, my hair streaming behind me in the thick humid air.

Fireflies.

I'd never seen them before.  I stayed for hours, catching them to watch them crawl along my fingers and leap into the air again and again, my fascination as if I were four, rather than fourteen.  I think I fell in love with the east coast that night.  Alone, damp and giggling in the dark of a summer's night as the magic of my dreams invaded my waking world.

Happy summer, my friends.



13 comments:

Robbie Grey said...

Despite my strong anti-romantic tendencies, that opening line, fuck, the whole first paragraph, was just pure poetry.

Fireflies is something I miss about lower elevations. I thought them only to be an east coast phenomena-e.g. those three unfortunate teenage years in rural North Carolina-but a friend of mine showed me a wetland near Boulder where they light up the twilight for a few brief weeks. The memory is still as bright as their phantasmal bioluminescence.

I'm up at ninety-one sixty. Where in Colorado were you?...if you do not find the inquiry too invasive.

Geo. said...

Oh my, you've struck a chord. Summer of '68 I was looking for America, a Californian in Chicago who accepted a ride to the Texas HemisFair. What I found in San Antonio were fireflies over the Paseo del Alamo one evening, and got transported to wonderland. One can learn of bioluminescence in school, but until it's seen flying over quiet waters on a summer night, the full impact is reserved. Great post, Chantel. My compliments.

Big Mark 243 said...

Being a midwestern city kid, fireflies were always hunted in the summer/spring evenings... to be put in jars until they extinguished, only to be replaced the next day...

Looking back, it seems callous... it is a ritual that predated me and I assume is being carried on ... but no one once ever mistook them for fairies, and I could see where they would have seemed magical to a young girl from the mountains...

Mary Kirkland said...

I've only seen fireflies once. We don't have them here in Las Vegas but the one time I did see them, I thought they were so neat.

Shelly said...

What a glorious refuge your words build. Simply, utterly lovely.

terlee said...

My husband and I were visiting my mother on the West Coast a few years ago and decided to drive across America to the East Coast before returning to Scotland.

After a few days of freeway, I plotted a different course: back roads and byways. One night, somewhere in Ohio, we were staying in a lovely little hotel on the outskirts of a very small town. No streetlights, no people, just silence and the stars.

It was a humid June night, too warm to sleep, so we decided to walk the country road to cool off...and discovered, just as you did, that there are fairies in our world after all.

What can I say? It was magical and beautiful and something I will never forget. Thanks for this wonderful post, it brought back a great memory...

Chantel said...

Robbie--I find myself nearly holding my breath every spring, they thrill me still. :) And the closest "town" to us was Bailey, Co. I could see Pikes Peak from our deck...are you near by?

Geo--thank you! There is certainly something amazing, unworldly about the glowing dance in the mist.

Mark--when they were young, my sons would take jars of them to bed as "nightlights," but we always let them go in the morning--it was wonderful tucking them in with magic in a jar...

Mary--they're astonishing, truly. :)

Shelly--thank you, sometimes if I could "escape" to any one place or time, I think it might be such a night. ox

Terlee--what a marvelous trip that must have been, and I can imagine lovers on such a night...beautiful.

Robbie Grey said...

Bailey's got some funk. I'm something of a ridge away, outside of Georgetown and ten miles east of Loveland Pass.

FrankandMary said...

A luxuriant read. If I'd just happened upon it~knowing nothing of the author, I would picture it written at an artists' residency in the woods.

In my mind's eye, I can see that first paragraph, painted, on museum-grade paper. ~Mary

Shea Goff said...

Oh how you paint with your words, my friend. You take me there. Thank you.

Freckled Philologist said...

Oh, pure magic! I'm enthralled with this memory.
Besos, Mary

Chantel said...

Robbie--Loveland Pass is beautiful...envious, I am. :)

Mary--I believe that "luxuriant" is perhaps one of my favorite words, I just like to say it out loud over and over. It makes the plainness of milk, amazing.

Shea--my goal in its entirety...to bring someone here. (to not be alone?) In my musings, my memories. (and you, a treasured guest)

Mary--kisses!

Mel Heth said...

Reading your words is like drinking hot cocoa. So delicious and they warm me right up inside.

I think I've only seen fireflies once on a trip east. And they really were magical. It's unfortunate we don't have any in California.