Our farm is on a dirt road, and sometimes you can count the number of cars that pass in a day on one hand. Though our rural setting makes for a very disappointing lemonade stand, it is perfect for watching fireflies. At our house the first warm day of spring brings anticipation of fireflies to our five year old. We wait months for them to begin flashing. The first few sparkly flies bring great joy and hours of chasing, in order to make a firefly jar to bring inside for the night. As summer really kicks in so many fireflies blink and sparkle in the deep black sky that it is hard to tell where the stars end and the pasture begins. Summer nights here are louder and busier than the days, full of life, as millions of bugs sing and hum and flash.
It is fall now, but it hasn’t yet frosted. It’s getting darker earlier, and last night I moved the sheep to new pasture in the dark. When the days get shorter we rely on headlamps to extend our working hours on the farm. While I worked I noticed that the bugs are still singing and humming as in summer, but the fields are conspicuously dark and feel lonely, empty, with our friends the fireflies no longer flashing; mixing pasture and stars. We’ve become so used to the fireflies that we’ve forgotten the joy that they brought in the early summer, and no longer catch them for nightlights. As I worked, the headlamp cutting blue paths through the dark I saw them; pairs of lights bobbing up and down in the pasture. The reflection from my headlamp shone in dozens of sheep eyes, lighting up the field just like the summer fireflies. There aren’t so many flashes in the fall field, they move more slowly, and with measure, but they are there. They bring life, and the stars and the night sky right down into our pasture. It’s almost as though our sheep have gobbled up the feel of summer along with its lush grass, preserving it for winter nights when the fields would otherwise be lonely and conspicuously dark.