My husband & I sat outside the other night watching cool breezes sway the smoke plumes from our candle and marveling at the occasional punctuations of bouncing light against the dark from passing fireflies. Growing up in California the only “fireflies” I had ever seen were those that hovered in the“sky” and “trees” at Disneyland in the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, and having nothing else to compare them to, I thought them magic enough at the time. Pshaww. Seeing real fireflies is the real magic and still so novel that excited squeals escape me at each sighting. Prior to witnessing their twirling luminous little flights most recently here in Barbados, my only other experience of them was one beautiful night a few years ago sitting under the arbor at the house in Maiori on the Amalfi Coast with my cousin Sarah and her newly-announced fiancé, Stan. As we talked long into the lemon blossom scented night, the fireflies startling but welcome appearance was the final fairy dust ending to an enchanted trip with some of my wonderful famiglia.
Despite the absence of direct firefly exposure in my childhood, considering their empyreal quality it surprises me they were not more on my radar. Fireflies seem a perfect accompaniment to some of my other childhood loves like unicorns, dragons and the Who’s only Horton could hear. My husband remembered fireflies from his childhood though and this launched us into a conversation about our recollections from growing up on two separate coasts. He asked me about my earliest childhood memory and told me his, as well as recounting details of his first 13 years spent in the Sheepshead Bay neighborhood of Brooklyn prior to his family moving 75 miles outside NYC, though a world away to a small town in Pennsylvania. Some of his reminiscence of his earlier years living in the city triggered memories for me of time spent visiting relatives in Boston in my youth and how unusual and foreign it had seemed as compared to my life in California. And the fireflies sparked wonder. Did they work their glowing magic for my parents first date at the beach clambake in Swampscott?
Other Boston memories that seemed so wonderfully exotic to a child raised in CA. –
Clotheslines, parlors, cellars, stoops
The parties in Jamaica Plain my grandparents had in their little flat with everyone in high spirits and hearing Italian spoken
Stickball, open fire hydrants in summer, public pools filled to overcapacity (seriously, wall-to-wall people)
The narrow winding wooden staircase at my grandmother’s house in Winthrop
Chocolate jimmys on ice cream at Howard Johnsons
Watching my cousin Danielle at colorguard (colorwhat? Nosuchbeast in CA)
The willow tree in Hyde Park by my Uncle T & Aunt D’s house
Owl potato chips, Charleston Chews, Banana Now-N-Laters
The Boston accent I felt cheated out of and so always tried to adopt to take back home with me
The fireflies sparked a night full of good conversation and remembrance of loved ones here and gone and which left a warming glow long past when their ephemeral flickering light had disappeared. Makes me eager and grateful to sit in the dark again to await their magic return.