Fireflies are Magical

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A small moment makes a vacation

Last night we were on the road in Northeastern Pennsylvania and stopped for an ice cream Sundae on Sunday. It was a hot Summer evening and just about time for the sun to set. As we left Gabel’s Ice Cream stand, my wife pointed out the tiny blinking lights in the tall grass just across the road. “Those are fireflies,” she marveled, and then walked over to stand and watch the magic in action.

Our kids thought it was amazing too. And it hit me that I hadn’t stood around to watch fireflies in a long long time. Fireflies blaze across a field at dusk and you only see trails of their movement as they light up to attract mates. Fireflies live for only a small time in particular habitats (tall grass near a water source) and don’t show up west of Kansas in the USA. If you’re a person who grew up on the West Coast, you might have only seen them in a movie or on TV. Seeing them in person is different, and worth a break from your day.

Fireflies rock.

Fireflies are magical because they are not on a schedule. Fireflies inspire myths like the will o’ the wisp or strange folk tales that seek to explain why an insect might slow. Fireflies are inspiring because they are a small light amidst a surrounding dusk as it heads to darkness. And fireflies make me think of being a child, running around to catch the flying lights in my backyard and holding them in my cupped hands as they glow.

I hear that fireflies are disappearing due to light pollution and the increasing encroachment of suburban homesites on the firefly’s limited habitat.  That’s too bad. Seeing something that only exists for a little while and can’t be captured easily by a still camera means you have to stop and just experience the moment. We saw the tell-tale flashes for about another 20 minutes and then the fireflies were gone for the night. We have a great memory from our trip that will stick around much longer. I’m glad we decided to go out for ice cream instead of going to a movie on the last night of our vacation.


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