Chasing Fireflies

“I assumed everyone had fireflies,” said my friend. We stood on her porch at dusk watching my son spin and dart around her yard, chasing the tiny, mid-air pulses of light. “But they don’t. People are surprised to see them here.”

tree canopy

tree canopy

Growing up in the Piedmont region of North Carolina, I assumed the same. Fireflies are a given of summer. Since we moved back from the Midwest last month, I realize everyone doesn’t have them. Not the way we do here.

We didn’t have fireflies like this during our 16 years away. Chicagoland drowns them out with stronger, artificial lights. I vaguely remember them flickering in our yard in St. Louis, but that was rare. And their floating courtship didn’t stand a chance against the winds of Wichita.

Here they flourish. Waves of them parade through the night in the deep woods near our little rental house. We walk the trails in daylight and find them dark and hiding in the cool of the forest.

The first week we arrived, we walked those trails like destitute people who’d happened upon a cathedral. The rich green of thick vegetation flooded us. We took shelter under the canopy of tall trees. We breathed it in. An enchanted forest, steps away from our front door.

The dog refused to come into the house that first week. She would go out, but she wouldn’t come back in. The disruption of movers followed by driving across the country with my husband only to be met with movers again didn’t sit well with her. She’s adjusting; I still carry her back into the house some days.



My son and I made the drive incrementally from Wichita to North Carolina alone. We stopped along the way in interesting, important places: Oklahoma City, Little Rock, Memphis, Corinth and Shiloh, Chattanooga. People have asked if I was scared driving all that way by myself with a child. No, I wasn’t scared. I was thankful I could do it.

Once we were moved in, my husband hit the ground running with his consulting work. He’s very busy, and we’re grateful.

My son and I are taking things slower, exploring our way through the summer and adjusting much like the dog. I’ve seen only a  fraction of the many people I want to see. Sixteen years is a long time to make up for being gone. Some things have changed. Others haven’t.

“Do you have a to-go cup I can pour this Coke into?” I asked the man at the counter of the barbecue restaurant. I love North Carolina barbecue. Eaten it twice already since we arrived. It’s comfort food to me. Makes everything better.

“No, we don’t have no to-go cups.” The whites of his eyes flashed up at me from his downturned, brown face.

“Oh,” I said. Just like the city. No margin for courtesies. Then I caught his smile.

“Here you go,” he said, handing me a cup, punctuated with a belly laugh.

“You have quite a poker face,” I said and laughed with him.

“I also work in drug and alcohol law enforcement,” he said. “I need a poker face.”

Later that day, my son and I took to the woods again, this time on our bikes.

forest path

forest path

We zipped through the forest in late afternoon, cutting the humidity like a boat cuts water. Rain from the night before had overflowed the creek banks and shifted the sandy trails. We ducked off the path to maneuver around fallen trees whose soggy roots had given way. Our wheels spewed flecks of gravel as they spun around.

Soaked with sweat and water, we reached the turn to go back to the house.

“Do we have to go in?” said my son.

“We can ride more tomorrow,” I said.

Today is only the beginning.

 Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. Eccesiastes 3:11 NLT

For King and Country, Middle of Your Heart.

What has your summer held for you?

Like fireflies in a city, my posts have been rare this summer. Thank you for your readership and your patience as my family makes this major relocation.

Martha Stewart, image credit David Shankbone

Martha Stewart, image credit David Shankbone

My work as a Project Underblog contributor continues. In June, Martha, May I? was published, and in July, A Clinique Conspiracy Theory was published. A third post is on tap for August. I invite you to click on the titles to read these stories. If you blog, consider stepping out and submitting a story to Project Underblog for publication. They are a supportive, safe community of writers~#smallandmighty!

I plan to attend the BlogHer conference in Chicago next week. It promises to be a fun time with my blogger sisters. If you’re there, please contact me @AimeeWhetstine on Twitter so we can connect IRL.

You may remember Listening to the Women of Monsanto was published this past May as a BlogHer Original Post. It was a well-read story for me. What’s next? That’s the question I’ll ponder at the conference and beyond. I must remind myself, as do we all, today is only the beginning.

photo credit: david_shankbone via photopin cc

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18 Responses to Chasing Fireflies

  1. Our farm is full of fireflies right now. We love them too! Glad to hear that you are doing well :)

    Cheers from Nebraska!

    • Same to you, Anne! I am in awe of how well you keep up your blog, your family, and your farm. You’re an inspiration. Keep on keeping on!

  2. It is so nice to see you in my inbox again! And I am so glad that you are adjusting well to being back “home”.

  3. What a treat to wake up to your beautiful words. How I’ve missed them!

    Funny, yesterday I was talking to my kids about fireflies and how we don’t have them in California. As a little girl living in New Jersey, I would catch them and watch them with wonder. How lucky you are to be living in such a magical place. Enjoy your exploration and know I’m here whenever you have the time and inclination to write.

    Have a wonderful time at BlogHer!

    • Thank you, Amy. I’ll miss seeing you at BlogHer! However, I really want to visit California again, so maybe I can use this as another excuse to plan a trip. Please know you’re always welcome in my home. We’ll save some fireflies for you and the kids!

  4. Oh yes! I remember my boys chasing fireflies night after night as they grew up in Georgia! What wonderful memories!

    • My son has really taken to chasing them. We used to put them in glass jars with holes in the lid to try to make lanterns, but he decided to “catch and release” all on his own. I’m glad he has the chance to do it!

  5. roy

    Glad to hear Jeff is busy. That was what induced the move, right? My aunt Robberta had a cabin in the Smokeys (NC) for some years. I remember, through the eyes and ears and fingertips of a 12 year old, the mountains in the morning in late spring. Buckberries – picked fresh, and one each in the squares of my waffles ( home made waffles ). There was mica in the soil, and it was fun to pick at it…..

    Fireflies do not flourish in the city. Suburbs? Maybe. I avoid both as much as I reasonably can. And farmland also is just to subdued. They very much prefer places like the slightly-adjusted woods we built this house in.

    But last summer was SO DRY – lots of things need a year or two to come back, I think. It has been SUCH a wonderful year for many of our flowers, owing to a wet spring, but the summer is drought again, and summertime critters are waning when they should be waxing. Spring peepers are keeping quiet, and that’s just not good.


    • It has been very wet here, so I think that’s helped many creatures come back. I didn’t know MO was in drought again :(

  6. Ya’ know, I can’t remember seeing a firefly here in St. Louis. I remember them in Little Rock, though. I’m gonna have to look. I’ll report back in a few days. I…..uh………..yep, I gotta find out.

    • Well, hi there. Nice to see you here. Please report back on what you find out about Little Rock and fireflies. T & I enjoyed the Market area when we drove through. Not a firefly in sight there. Of course it was daytime…

  7. Fireflies and lilacs were a couple of my favorite memories as a child in rural Illinois. You are so right! I expected fireflies to just a common phenomenon , so when we moved to Oregon I really missed them. I carried these little memories like a secret little treasure box , and when the change became too hard, I would close my eyes and visualize their gentle light moving through my memory. Now that the Lord is in my life , He has been that Light for me, when I am going through new changes, but I will always be thankful for His intelligent and care in creating these little wonders, Thank you for sharing your experience, so uplifting.

    • Thank you for reading and sharing, Heather. I carry similar childhood memories of fireflies–they are mesmerizing to me. God is good and gentle to bless us with such gifts. They are reminders that Christ is the Light of the World, shining in our darkness.

  8. I love summer and fireflies. Welcome home, Aimee. :)

  9. I’m so excited to be discovering and reading your blog!

    I live in Alberta and I have never seen a firefly. Ever. It’s actually on my bucket list. Apparently I need to travel to North Carolina!

    Wishing you many blessings.

    • Hi, Deliberate Mom. Thanks for coming by to read. You may be my first reader via Twitter :) You’re welcome to visit here and NC anytime!