June Bug Summer

Rose chafer feeding on white flowers

And yet day and night meet fleetingly at twilight and dawn and their merging sometimes affords the beholder the most enchanted moments of all the twenty-four hours. – Mary Balogh

Summer evenings growing up in the South were imbued with an enchantment  that is lost when children stop playing hide and seek and tag; before the world reaches out and places demands on their dreams and the fleeting freeness of childhood slips away like vapor in the hot morning sun.

While I might have played all day, stopping every now and then to eat and help my mother with washing or gardening, it is night that the real fun begins. The shadows become playmates as my sister and I hide from each other in secret places that only exist in the twilight. Tree frogs, cicadas and crickets each sing with their unique timbre in concert with the persistent call of the whippoorwills, “whip OR will, whip OR will, whip OR will”; the resulting cacophony sounding like an orchestra tuning individual instruments before merging together to create the ever-changing song of nature. Sometimes I imitate the lonesome call of the Bob white quail, whistling “Bob white” with a lilt at the end of the white and soon I receive an answer from a hopeful suitor and we call back to each other for a while. When I stop he calls a few more times before his plaintive calls abruptly stop and he beds down for the night alone and disappointed.

The daring moths, drawn to the glow of the bare-bulb light on the porch, fling themselves on the hot glass and fall mortally wounded on the planks below. The more timid moths satisfy their craving for light by clinging to the screen door with their tiny stick feet, looking at the inside lights like sinners outside the Pearly Gates, condemned to only experience the warmth of the celestial luminescence from afar.

In spite of all the noise from the nighttime serenade, there is stillness to the evening that is a feeling more than a reality. It is the time when belief in fairies and elves seems possible and each shadow quivers, not from something fearsome, but something wonderful that just might come to out to dance with us in the moonlight if the magic is strong enough.

Glossy green June bugs dive bomb our heads and if we hold out our hands sometimes they land, surprising agile in spite of their chunky bodies. They fold their veiny parchment wings underneath their hard iridescent shells and explore, sometimes tickling us as they suck the salty sweat from our palms. Finding no other delights they open their wings and buzz off into the night and vanish like fighter pilots on solitary missions into the unknown.

As the night matures the darkness is punctuated with the bright yellow phosphorescent glow of lightning bugs, blinking off and on, tempting us to catch and contain them in clear Mason jars with lids that mother punched holes in with a hammer and nail so their temporary prison is confining but livable.  On moonless nights we turn the porch light off so the only light that pushes back the dark is the pulsating eerie yellow glow from our captive torchbearers. Having shared the gift of light with us we release them to spread their wonderfulness over our farm as all creatures great and small breathe in the last of the summer magic and sleepily close our eyes to welcome the forgiving arms of our dreams.

Copyright © 2015 Kathleen Gunderman

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