Blog: Firefly Driving

Led home from Richardson concert by fireflies, to hilltop and woods filled with winged light, new poem on this subject

Seems as though 'all Princeton' was at Richardson Auditorium, Monday night, relishing the splendors of the Chiara String Quartet.  I wonder if everyone else was privileged to drive home through fireflies. 

Even to walk across the Princeton campus, Richardson at my back, to the rising of fireflies! 

To drive alongside the quarry, transformed by fireflies.

I've been fascinated by these magical creatures ever since childhood.  We didn't have them in Lathrup Village, near Birmingham, Michigan.  Every summer, my little sister and I I would collect them at dusk in nearby Ohio.  We would carefully settle the winking ones among fresh grasses in mayonnaise jars brought for our purpose.-- Jars whose lids had tiny round holes punched in them so that the lightning bugs could breathe all the way back home.  We'd almost fly, ourselves, out of the car and into the side yard to release our precious cargo.  We, naturally, expected them to promulgate. 

Year's later, a mocking poet scolded, "Carolyn, only one sex lights."

Maybe the lightning bugs found their own way to Michigan by now.

Here on my hill above Canal Road, fireflies rise even before sundown.  Their yellow-green electrification punctuates the darkness.

I've read that they like grassy stretches near woods, which is certainly what we have.  Even the gravel comes alight.  Later, I do my standing exercises by the long windows, watching "the woods fill up" with light.

One night, they flew so high, it seemed they were on trajectory to meet their sisters, the stars.

Here is a new poem on the subject.

I wish you fireflies!





I watch

the fireflies






if they are


or waking



in wink-clouds

from grass blades

even gravel



they are

high in the trees


and I wonder


when do the lightning bugs



when they run out of trees


or when

their glow


is matched?


                                                            CAROLYN FOOTE EDELMANN

                                                            June 21, 2012

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Tasha O'Neill July 12, 2012 at 02:57 PM
You always teach us something new. I didn't know about the fact that only one sex lights up. I bet it's the female. It seems that they are around longer than in other years??
William Myers July 13, 2012 at 12:56 AM
Fireflies were a Princeton phenomena in the 18th century, when the town was filled with orchards and farms; President Witherspoon arrived at the peak of the season in the summer of 1768 and was astonished at the sight.
Carolyn Foote Edelmann July 13, 2012 at 11:53 AM
Tasha, thank you so much for commenting, and for learning with me about single-gender lighting! Can't tell about 'longer', not being firefly expert. However, they do seem more bountiful and also more energetic here. See other comment about John Witherspoon!
Carolyn Foote Edelmann July 20, 2012 at 08:55 AM
So appreciate your telling me of the 1700s and fireflies. I love picturing President Witherspoon's ride from the University to Tusculum (along what is now Witherspoon Street for awhile) surrounded by light, looking toward the light his family placed in the window of that stately home. Carolyn


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