We have new neighbors— a husband and wife and their four children. We can see the rooftop of their home from our upstairs bedrooms. Our house is up on a rocky hill, tucked way back in the woods, off by itself. We enjoy the privacy, but we were happy to see the neighbors move in last week months after our elderly neighbor, Jo Mary, passed away.
“We need to take them a welcome gift,” my husband said. “Do you have any ideas?” “How about big red geraniums in a pretty pot?” I offered. Gene rolled his eyes and said, “Kids don’t want flowers. Never mind. I’ll take care of it.”
He went to the grocery store and returned with $40 of individuallywrapped candy and snack foods— Snickers, Reese’s Cups, Moon Pies, Ritz Crackers, Peanut Bars, Shortbread Cookies, Fig Newtons, etc. We arranged the snacks in a big wicker basket, tied a big white bow on the handle, and walked down to their house.
A young girl answered the door, looked at us, then at the basket of snacks. It was a diplomatic gesture akin to saying, “We come in peace.” The mother—Ashley—finally appeared at the door and ushered us into the foyer of their new home. They were still moving in and the house was in an understandable state of disarray. Plus, they were adding a new coat of paint to the walls. After brief introductions, we chatted for a moment about the usual stuff. They moved here from San Antonio, Texas and are excited about living out in a more natural setting where the kids are free to roam the land. Ashley mentioned that her husband hoped to grow things.
“George and Jo Mary had a large garden in the field beside the house before they got so old they couldn’t care for it any more,” my husband told her. “Some years, the deer ate it down to the ground. Have you seen the deer yet?”
They all nodded and smiled. “What about the red fox?” I asked.
They had not seen the frolicking fox, or foxes, yet, but they will. We also mentioned the pack of coyotes that moves through every month or so. They howl and yip when they hear the train rolling by on the tracks a mile away.
“Have you heard the whip-poorwill in the woods behind your house? I asked.
The youngest child—I’m guessing he’s six or seven—said, “What’s a whip-poor-will?”
I explained the unique whipping birdsong in the evenings. The children seemed interested.
They said they are amazed at how loud it is here at night. Let me explain. The cicadas are out in full force this year with their deafening love song. Their buzzing is so loud you can’t hear yourself think if you go out on the deck at night. I love it, but I suppose it is a bit unsettling—maybe even terrifying—if you’ve never heard it before.
“And we’ve seen the fireflies,” one of the daughters interjected, her face beaming. “There are thousands of them. They’re so cool.”
The mother nodded noting that continued from page
they have enjoyed the light show every evening in the field just beyond their yard.
We’ve always enjoyed watching the lightning bugs, as well, and this year, thanks to the warm, muggy weather we’ve had in Northwest Georgia, we’ve had the pleasure of watching them for weeks. As the day begins to dim, they emerge in the forest and fields surrounding our property. They look like strings of twinkling whitegold lights on a Christmas tree, or the tiny glowing embers that blow upward from a campfire, or a swirl of magnificent stars that twinkle in the nighttime sky. When I was a child, I occasionally caught one or two fireflies in clear Mason jars to study as if I were some nerdy entomologist. It was like a Pinterest project before Pinterest even existed. To make a Do-It-Yourself Lantern, all you need is a glass container and two fireflies. Estimated project time: five minutes.
As I studied them, I learned that they illuminate the lower portions of their bodies to try to capture the attention of a mate. In the process, their flashy light display takes my breath away. Every summer, I catch a few in my hands and watch them for a few minutes to reclaim a little magic from my youth.
After discussing the fireflies with the new neighbors, we left. An hour later, I saw the fireflies begin their twinkling evening show just above the grassy field between our homes. As I watched from the hilltop, I knew that other eyes were watching them from below—watching with the same joy and excitement I experience. The wonder of nature is alive and well in the hearts and minds of our young neighbors, and that makes me happy.