last week i met up with my sister and nephew in washington dc. though (and i knock on wood when i say this), i feel that new york city has been relatively kind to us this summer, my fair sister, accustomed to the freakishly mild weather in Northern California (I really have come to understand how unusually nice it is there compared to the rest of the country...), was drowning in the relative heat and humidity.
always the pollyanna, i periodically pointed out the beautiful side of the ugly east coast summer. i see these as little rewards for putting up with it. like leaving the house knowing you'll return after midnight, in a tank top, with no sweater. like an incredible, awe-for-nature-inducing thunder and lightning storm just went you think you'll simultaneously melt into a gelatinous puddle and spontaneously combust.
and then there are the fireflies. i understand that they are just insects. i understand that they light up to find their mates. yet none of this understanding changes the fact that they are 100% undeniably pure MAGIC. i remember the first one i saw. it was the 4th of july of 1997, my first summer on the east coast. of course i knew about fireflies, but they resided in that category of my brain labeled "exisiting only in the realm of books, television and movies". You know, mac n cheese and pizza behind the lunch line at school. That doesn't really happen except in sitcoms, does it? or halloween parties where every single person shows up in perfect and elaborate get-ups that could sell for $300 at a costume shop.
but there i was, sitting on the porch, and there came floating through lynn's yard, one of those mythical fairies, lighting up like a beacon. I squealed. I screamed. Suddenly they were everywhere. a veritable freakin' fairy garden. like maxfield parish must be lurking behind a bush around the corner. they may as well have been little unicorn/pegauses (pegasi?) flapping purple wings around.
and thus, i don't remember the fireworks. just the fairies.
Considering abbie is my sister and not only shares my exact dna, but also my environmental upbringing, i counted on her to have the exact same reaction. and how pleasing it was.
we toured the national monuments at sunset which led into twilight. as we walked away from lincoln's steps, past the expansive mall and into the pathways of trees and bushes, I knew they'd be there. i stopped abbie and put my hand on her shoulder to impart a great sense of drama. stay still and just LOOK over there! i whispered. and soon enough the squealing came. dozens of little fairies thanking us for putting up with the heat and humidity. our little consolation prizes.
our friendly tourguide, who'd been here for 30 years shook his head, laughing. he said, possibly to the bushes, possibly to the serious statue of lincoln, "....and these are grown women!"
oh! and i forgot to mention the glorious and spellbinding cicadas....