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Growing up, we spent the summers at my grandfather’s house outside Nashville, Tennessee. Our parents “let” us go without them—even encouraged it—which meant they spent the entire summer without us. For some odd reason, they looked forward to summer vacation as much as we did.
At the time, the area was fairly rural (near the intersection of Hillsboro Pike and Old Hickory Blvd for those of you familiar with Nashville who want to chuckle at the memory of that being rural). Otter Creek ran along the side of his property and we played in the creek endlessly. He had a huge garden in the backyard where we learned the delicacies of eating sweet corn straight off the stalk and consumed far more strawberries than ever hit the basket we were dispatched with. Our grandfather even “let” us mow his field (apparently the same Tom Sawyer logic my parents had used).
My mother had a horse growing up, so there was a horse barn, but he no longer kept them. The people on either side did, though, which added to the mystique.
On summer evenings, he helped us fashion mason jars with nail holes punched in the lids so we could catch lightning bugs. For those of you not from the South, those are fireflies. They floated above the grass, flicking their lights. Before the evening was out, we let all of them go.
I hadn’t notice them much in recent years. Our house in Maggie may have been at too high an altitude and the house in Murrells too low (can’t get much lower than sea level). Too my surprise, though, we are perfectly situated at our new home in Asheville.
For the last few weeks, we go out in the evening with the dogs for last turnout and the yard is glowing with their blinking. Dozens and dozens—maybe hundreds—of them softly fly about.
We are often mesmerized by the big predators in the animal world. Mother Nature provides us coyotes and wolves, bobcats and mountain lions, alligators and crocodiles, hawks and eagles, bears and sharks, and much more. I love seeing these amazing creatures with their awesome power.
On a quiet summer evening, though, I am in awe of the peaceful beauty of our surroundings. The sun sets and darkness grows while insects flutter about with the inaudible flap of their wings. We know of their presence mostly through the magical flicker of their beacon.
I realized I wasn’t alone in amazement. To my side was one of my dogs, head tilted, eyes wide, watching the blinking on and off. He didn’t try to catch them, but watched in wonder. When it was time to go inside, he resisted.
So we sat a little longer.
Books I’m Reading
Ben Mears returns to Jerusalem’s Lot, the town of his haunted childhood, to work on his newest book. When two young boys venture into the woods and only one returns, Ben realizes evil still resides there. He suspects it’s centered on the Marsten House, a place of legend in the town’s history and nightmares in Ben’s own memories.
The Marsten House has recently been sold to an Austrian immigrant named Kurt Barlow, but no one has seen him yet. They know only his business partner, Richard Straker. Ben comes to suspect that Barlow is an ancient vampire, attacking and killing residents who rise from the dead to stalk their own families and friends.
Ben finds few allies who accept his theories, but joins forces with twelve-year-old Mark Petrie to do battle with the rapidly expanding vampire forces.
This is King’s second published novel (after Carrie which brought his name into public view) and shows his mastery in creating numerous characters you come to know—before he kills them.
NOTE: The ebook is currently on sale for only $1.99 at all the major retailers I checked (my links can be found if you click on the cover of the book above). I don’t know when the sale will end, so I clicked over on Kobo—my preferred e-retailer—and bought my copy.
If you enjoyed today’s story about fireflies, you may like this article in our local newspaper—A Firefly Season Recap from the Experts.
It’s mating season for black bears, so they are roaming all over our mountains. In general they are fairly docile animals, but sometimes events happen to remind us they are wild animals. My thoughts are with the girl recently mauled in the park (aka, Great Smoky Mountains National Park for those of you who don’t live here). Note the camping restrictions now in place and take this as a reminder to give these beautiful creatures plenty of respect if you see one.
Gratuitous Dog Picture
No, this isn’t Landon’s face when he saw the fireflies (you can tell because it’s daylight!), but this is the face he makes when he sees or does something cool to him. As our wonder boy—the dog who is always amazed at things that happen around him—he makes this look often. In this case, he had just been balancing on the benches in the backyard.
Background title image courtesy Toan Phan
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