Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The crowds come back

I was three when I moved from Oregon to Missouri with my parents. It was early April and several of my older siblings stayed behind with my aunt and uncle to finish out the school year. Aunt Clem was unhappy that we were moving so far away and told my brothers and sisters horror stories about Missouri - that it was an uncivilized backwoods region filled with uneducated hillbillies. She said all the houses were like Jed Clampett's shack and no one had electricity or indoor plumbing.

The stories seem ridiculous now, but apparently my youngest brother, Danny (he would have been 12) believed them implicitly. They came on in late May or early June and had only been here a day or two when he ran in the house at twilight, all excited and upset. "Dad," he said, "you'd better come outside! I don't know what's going on, but there's a whole crowd of men down on the road with little bitty flashlights!"

There are no fireflies in Oregon, of course.

I was the one drafted to catch some and prove to my disbelieving brother that there really were bugs out there whose butts light up. All these decades later I still remember that story every year when the lightning bugs return. They're back now, fourth this year after daffodils (always first), tree frogs, and early purple iris. Next will come the whippoorwills and then it will be summer for sure.

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