There was a lot of news this week, but I decided the firefly or the lightning bug deserved my attention. In February the “Say’s Firefly” was designated as our state insect. It came as a surprise to me as it probably did to you. First, I did not know other states had designated insects. (We were only one of three who did not!) This is mostly due to a young lady at Cumberland Elementary School in West Lafayette. When Kayla Xu was in second grade, she and her classmates became aware of the fact we did not have a state insect. (How did they know and I did not?)
These young people set out to do something about it (kind of fits in with the news of this week, don’t you think?) and they did it! Kayla is now in fifth grade and there is a lovely photo of her with the Governor at the state house. I tried to call her directly to get a quote, but she was on spring break so the phone call will have to wait!
Fireflies or lightning bugs have been blinking their way into summer fields and gardens in Indiana for as long as I can remember. Oh, the joy of summer to run barefoot through the gardens and capture them in our hands. Of course, the next sequenced event was to put them in jars and place the magic next to our beds as a night light. I guess it was my parents who set the fireflies free, watching them fly off into the distance in the star- studded nights. I did that for my children and my little grandchildren who were from Phoenix. Each summer Holly and Brianna spend time with me in my Indiana garden. There are no fireflies in Phoenix so they are very charmed by them. They, too, run barefoot through my gardens catching them and putting them in jars. When they are tucked into bed, I quietly gather the jars and watch the fireflies take flight.
My friend and writer extraordinaire, Helen Frost, wrote a book in collaboration with artist, Rick Lieder, on the beauty of fireflies. I attended a lecture given by the two of them in Fort Wayne as they talked about their book, “Among a Thousand Fireflies.” Rick shared photos and with each one I was more in awe than the previous photo. Helen’s lyrical poetry fuses with the illustrations beautifully. I once asked Rick about his work. He said, “I always loved insects as a kid. As a grown-up, it gives me a great chance to sit on the ground and watch bugs and fireflies with my camera.”
All this beauty comes with a 170-page document of regulations. (Kayla, did you expect all of that?) I hope to read this before my girls visit! We will use the appropriate size glass jars, keep only a few, and release them. Of course, this only applies to the Say’s Firefly. I understand there are 2,000 varieties, which will not be under the new guidelines. However, I think to avoid any prosecution, we will follow the rules for all fireflies.
My grandchildren will visit. We will catch and release fireflies in the warm summer air as we run barefoot in the grass. At night, I will read to them from Helen’s book. And, when they are sound asleep, I will tiptoe around their room and carry our beloved fireflies out to the dark gardens. Lovely.
Kayla, thank you for spear heading this movement. I hope, as you grow older you will keep up your enthusiasm for making our world a better place. There is much to do, and we are counting on you.