Two years ago, you could count the flashes of the lightning bugs in my yard one by one, out loud, sipping tea between each count, and still not miss a beat. The display was frighteningly paltry, and not just at my house but throughout the neighborhood. I was fearful that somehow we had managed to massacre this crepuscular army of lit-up beetle bottoms.
But this year, they have rebounded.
The very best view of this blessed renewal can be found just a few doors down the street, where the fall of the land flattens out into a little creek, and opens onto a hidden pond in my neighbor’s side yard. It must be the combination of creek, pond, meadow-like lawn and arc of tall trees surrounding it all, for evening time hosts literally thousands and thousands of fireflies lighting up the ground, the bushes, the treetops, the air. The beauty of the incessant, urgent flickering is heightened by the accompanying absolute silence of the display.
We street-side visitors can see our neighbor’s light-show best through a break in the hedge, which frames the staging of this fairy display through an enchanted gateway. The scene is precisely what I would paint on the cover of a child’s book of bedtime poems (assuming I could paint). We are standing on this side of reality, close enough to watch the enchantment in awe, but knowing that we stand beside a threshold that we cannot cross.
Beauty and light, charm and hope, seeking and finding can be found there, on the other side, just beyond our reach. Each day is filled with preparation, anticipation, for the wonders, the adventures, the promises of the evening to come.
We do not fully inhabit that world. It is too sweet, too lovely, too light for us. But we can peer into it there, and imagine it from here, the way we can peer into the Garden of Eden, and seek to recapture it, and recreate it, as best we can.