This column, That Nature Show, is about the nature right under your nose, in our backyards, playgrounds and parks! Stop and look around, you’ll be amazed at what surrounds you.
My son, 10, told me what to write about cheetahs. It’s his favorite animal, an animal he loves so much he convinced his grandmother (my mother) to buy him a large cheetah-shaped lamp a la something from Elvis’ Jungle Room. But we don’t have any cheetahs around here, so I’m going to write about fireflies. Mark Twain said, “The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.”
The first fireflies of the Summer 2015 season were spotted last night in Owings Mills. My daughter, 7, is still in that dreamy stage where she believes animals can talk to her. She said, “The fireflies are saying ‘You should get me a pony,’ Mom.” Also, she said they said I should get cupcakes from Flavor Cupcakery and Bake Shop in Cockeysville to celebrate her graduation from 1st grade.
The above could have been the first scene of a creepy film about special powers exhibited by some otherwise normal kid. It wasn’t, because the night was so fine. The air was humid, soft, and full of the scent of honeysuckle. I thought, Perhaps I should get my daughter a pony. Perhaps I should get everyone in the world cupcakes and a pony. School’s out for the summer.
That’s the wonderful effect of a firefly night: it softens the hard edges of a personality like mine. My impulse is not to irritatedly ask if everyone has finished their spelling homework so we can move on to math. What I want to do is let the dog off the leash so she can run around the soccer field.
“Firefly lights are the most efficient lights in the world — 100% of the energy is emitted as light. Compare that to an incandescent bulb, which emits 10% of its energy as light and the rest as heat,” reports the website Fireflyfacts.com. In fact, material engineers are reverse engineering fireflies’ “cold light” to make better LED lights for your home.
I’ve always wanted a fairyland bower lit by the shimmering lights of lightening bugs in jars, haven’t you? I’m going straight to Pinterest.