perils with writing and whatnot
I think most kids wait impatiently for that last day of school to end, and for summer vacation to begin. It doesn’t seem to make much difference whether there’s a trip of pleasure in the bargain or not. Summer vacation is summer vacation even if your family doesn’t have the money to pay for exotic places of adventure. There’s plenty of adventures at home to keep one busy for at least half of the summer break.
I didn’t grow up poor. This isn’t to say that my parents were Mr. and Mrs. Big-bucks either. The households in my neighborhood ran from lower middle class to just plain middle class. My family fell into the latter. Most of the kids in the neighborhood rarely went on any trips, not even to go camping. It wasn’t so much that the money wasn’t there to pay for a weekend in the wild. It was just that most parents in the neighborhood weren’t interested in spending time with nature and not having access to a real bathroom. I wasn’t one to accept going behind a bush, tree, or rock myself. However, port-a-potties and small wooden building with crude toilet seats over a hole were accommodations I was willing to tolerate.
Small trips were almost always figured into the family budget, even if it meant going without some other small luxuries in our household. Of course, because of how tight the budget was, it was predetermined that there would only be one small trip per year. My little brother and I didn’t mind one bit. Although we liked the idea of going on a trip, we usually had more fun staying at home in the summer.
As a kid, I didn’t think there was anything better than being outside after dark during the summer months. It’s the time to play ‘kick-the-can’, a game very similar to ‘hide-and-go-seek’, except the one who is it must tag and run to home base and kick the can that is there. Then s/he has to yell out the person’s name who was tagged. Also, the ones hiding can frustrate the one who is it by sneaking back to home base, kick the can, and then run to hide again. That means the one who is it has to stop seeking for a minute to go back to home back and set the can upright again. It’s a fun game.
I remember, while I would be hiding, I’d also be daydreaming. Sitting in the dark behind a tree or bush, I would often wonder why I never saw any fireflies. I, of course, saw the ones in stories while watching a movie or show on TV, but I had never seen one in real life. As I would crouch so that I wouldn’t be seen in the game, I would daydream about dancing with the fireflies.
That wasn’t the only time I thought about these beautiful flying bugs. Each year when Mom or Dad would say that we’d be leaving to go camping in a few days, I would think about those little creatures. I wanted to go on a trip to where the fireflies dwelled. That, most assuredly, would have been somewhere humid. Living in Colorado meant no humidity, even to the point where it only took minutes for the ground to dry after a rain storm. I wanted to go to other states where the air was damp, which didn’t mean going west, I can assure you.
My parents never wanted to venture east of Colorado. East of Colorado there weren’t any relatives to stay with, which was usually the only way we could afford to go past the state borders. At least this was the explanation they gave me the one time I asked about the Mississippi River as a trip destination.
Now I live in the Cumberland Mountains of Tennessee. Surely the air is moister here. I’m usually turning on the air conditioning when the temperature is barely 80 degrees just because the humidity is making it so uncomfortable in the house. You would think that there would be fireflies here within the damp grasses. I have yet to see any. For four years now, my husband and I have lived in this great little house with its 3/4 acre. We have lots of room for fireflies, yet not one has shown up in our yard.
I have yet to see a firefly.
Text+Sound by Wayne Mason
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