Friday, June 6, 2008

Catching lightening bugs, a summer ritual.....

Evening would begin with the sun dipping down behind the trees, the street lights flickering on and Mama's calling for us kids to come eat supper. We'd all head for our respective homes, trudging as if going to jail. None of us wanted to eat supper, we wanted to PLAY.

It was spring, school was out, our bedtime had been pushed back a bit and we were ready to begin the fun. Playing outside until it was too dark to see or until our parents would call us to come in, some of the best childhood memories there are.

I remember one particular childhood ritual. Lightening Bug hunting. Oh! The delight of begging the glass jar from Mama, punching holes in the lid with Daddy's best pointed point screw driver, dropping some grass in the bottom of the jar and going on the hunt.

We'd run around with our jars, capturing those tiny pin points of light and delighting in the wonder of them. Lightening bugs were a total entertainment item. I could sit for hours watching them crawl around the jar, lighting up in blinking signals that only another lightening bug could understand.

I put the jar on my bed beside my pillow and fell asleep watching them. The next morning I found them "asleep" or so I thought, until I decided to go outside and turn them loose. It was then I found that they actually were dead. That was it, no more hunting lightening bugs for me. I found pleasure in watching them fly, holding out my hand underneath them and getting them to land on my hand. Then I watched as the tiny nightlight would wander around, finally crawling up to the tip of my finger and flying away.

I'm sorry to note that I don't see many lightening bugs anymore. I've noticed in recent years that there were fewer and fewer every year. I wonder, did we as children, catching them and holding them in jars, cause this decline? I hope not, but maybe so. I've also noticed that children today don't know about lightening bug jars or the joy of playing outside until the street lights come on. Today, they can't and or won't. The dangers are to great. There are drive-by shootings, perverts that stop and call out about a mythical lost puppy, drug deals going on in the driveways of neighborhoods and heavy traffic for our children to deal with. Then there are the video games, MTV, cell phones and other high tech attention getter's for our children's entertainment.

What a shame, the simple pleasures that they might write about someday, are lost. Who cares about the highest score you ever got on Grand Theft Auto?

1 comment:

  1. Well, I made it a point to get my kids a jar and go hunt lightning bugs! They've done this before but, it made me think.
    When I was little, that's what summer was all about. You played outside, all day. Barefooted. No air. No TV. You did not run in and out all day saying that you were bored! You played house, spies, whatever and where ever your imagination took you. You didn't have toys. The rocks were the
    potatoes! The grass were the green beans or collards! The dirt was I don't remember what and of course, you couldn't have dinner without mudpies for dessert! Then after dinner, you caught lightning bugs! For crying outloud! What are we doing to our kids! They think they are to be entertained! And we are supposed to entertain them! I don't mean not spending time with them. But they think that we are supposed to arrange them playdates and activities and camps and whatever! What happened to playing and pretending. Oh yea, and don't forget dressup and Cinderella. I don't mean the Princess Cinderella, I mean the poor little maid Cinderella. You know, where you put on your raggedy clothes and BEG your mom to PLEASE, PURDY PLEASE, can we please pretend we are Cinderella and scrub your floor. Of course, Mom would make a fuss but only to make us think that it was something that she didn't like, so that we would keep asking to do it and she wouldn't have to mop the floors! I'm sure she was walking out of there grinning from ear to ear and then taking a little break and thinking,
    "Thank God for Cinderella!"

    Thank you so much for this post. With summer here, I was wondering what kind of activities will I do with the kids. I now know. We are gonna have fun and play. We are going to use our imaginations and go for walks, play in the dirt and dadburn it, we are going to catch some lightning bugs!!!!!!!