Firefly at the Back Door
by Donald Ray Burger
Attorney at Law

Tuesday, June 25, 2002: Life had been busy and I was behind on posting the email reports from people who had seen fireflies around the country. So I decided to spend a couple of hours working on getting the reports up to date. I worked until ten o'clock and even watched a few minutes of local news. Maria and I then took our golden retriever, Sarah, for her "before bed" walk. When we got back it was almost 10:30. Sarah walked to the back door and let me know she had not had enough. She wanted to go outside to check out the back yard.

As I opened the door I noticed a greenish light blinking on the screen door. I grabbed Sarah's collar to stop her from running out and looked again.

There it was. Or was it? It made absolutely no sense that it could be what I thought it should be. I called Maria to come quick. But, of course, by then the blinking had stopped. It had rained earlier in the day so I looked for an indoor light that might have been reflecting on a raindrop still on the screen. Didn't find anything. Looked a while longer. Nothing.

I let Sarah out and continued to stare at the screen door. Must have been an overactive imagination. But I couldn't buy that. I had seen something. Time to investigate thoroughly. I grabbed a small flashlight and went out the door to look from the outside. There, exactly where I thought it should be, was what should not be. A lonely firefly. Not blinking. But exactly the right shape and color as in all the pictures. I picked it up and went inside and put it in a jar Maria had found in the pantry. We put some mesh fabric over the top and rubber banded it in place. Not exactly the ice pick through the lid I remembered as a child, but more air holes. The lightening bug looked dead. I had been gentle when picking it up, but the firefly just lay there, not moving. I gave the jar a little shake. The firefly started blinking furiously and started to crawl around in the jar.

I remembered that apple is the fruit of choice for firefly jars. I sliced a chunk off an apple and added it to the jar, with some grass. I'm not sure the function of the grass, but we always put in grass when we were kids. We decided to leave the jar outside overnight in case the low humidity inside the house would harm the firefly. We also turned the porch light off, although the firefly had come to the back door, which had a porch light plus the interior lights of the house.

I can't say I slept soundly. At 5:40 am I went outside to check on the girl. She was blinking away in the dark. I got the flashlight to see if she had attracted any males during the night. No luck. Still just one lonely firefly.

So where did my firefly come from? Do we now have fireflies in the Heights? I'm not sure. However, I think it most likely that we "imported" this one on plants we bought at Brookwood Community Nursery on Saturday afternoon. We had filled the Jeep up with all kinds of plants and we spent Sunday planting them in pots on the back porch and in the ground. We had purchased three purple fountain grasses, four dwarf maiden head grasses, two small grasses, two coneflowers, two butterfly weeds, several herbs (including purple basil, peppermint, cuban oregano and chives), and a hugh mallow. The firely was probably on one of the plants from the nursery. But maybe not. Maybe fireflies have returned to the Heights. Or at least one firefly has. And that one found it's way to my back door. For that I am thankful.

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