Firefly Lane

June 14th, 2005

Pretty soon after I got home tonight the sky grew dark and the gentle whisper of the wind through the trees increased in volume like a mighty river of air through the swirling and lashing branches as the temperature dropped.

Isaiah asked if we could go for a walk as soon as I got home but my mother had called me at work during the day to ask me to have a look at the leaking faucet in her tub. So after I’d hung around outside with the boys and Ruth watching the weather grow angry for a few minutes, I loaded my toolbox in the van and left to go see if there was anything I could do. Before my five minute drive was over fat drops were intermittently smacking into the windshield scattering halos of tiny droplets around each impact point.

The rain didn’t start in earnest until after I’d determined there was nothing I could do for the worn out faucet tonight and left to go home. Just as I backed into the driveway the rain ramped up sharply, but I was listening to a story on the radio so I just waited it out a few minutes and dashed between the raindrops when the downpour let up.

Ruth was working on dinner when I came in but it wouldn’t be done for a while so I took a book out on the back porch to read. Isaiah followed me out shortly after to “watch the storm”. I told him he could come out if he would be quiet and he was for a few minutes. When the quiet wore out I suggested he get a book of his own to bring out and read. The rain had mostly stopped though the sky was still stormy as we read.

After supper (which had been what you might call ‘eventful’ due to Gideon’s mood- one that I would describe as the opposite of cooperative) the rain had ended and Isaiah asked me again if we could go for a walk. I told him to ask Ruth and she said she didn’t care so Isaiah and I went out into the cool gloom of dusk.

I was glad I’d decided to go. The temperature was perfect, just a tiny bit cool with a breeze blustering gently. The clouds, recently agitated were still somewhat out of sorts as they worked to reconfigure themselves more comfortably in the sky.

“Look at the sunset,” he cried pointing to the ruffled sheet of orange and yellow clouds above the treeline as we came to the end of our driveway.

“That’s not the sunset, Isaiah. We’re facing east. That light is the reflection of the sunset against those clouds. They are pretty neat looking though, aren’t they?”

“Yeah, they look like the skin of some kind of giant monster!”

A few blocks down the street we took a turn we’ve never taken on a walk in all the five years we’ve lived here and I was feeling very good. I’d been somewhat cranky before we left, but my mood had been transformed.

I’m sensitive to light. My skin doesn’t burn easily, what I mean is the light environment can have a great effect on me and the abovementioned clouds, ripped and torn less than a half hour before, were creating a singular and dynamic colorscape for us to walk through. As we turned at a corner I’d never before experienced outside of an automobile, my imagination was sparked and my improving attitude soared as the reflected and filtered light showed me my hometown in a new way.

A couple of blocks later we were walking south and looked over our left shoulders to see the clouds lit by reflection again through a notch in the trees.

“When you’re walking it seems like the clouds are moving, Dad. Like they’re running away from us.”

“Come here,” I said leading him off the sidewalk to an empty parking lot for a better view of the sky, “Now just stand… And you can see that the clouds are moving blown by the wind high up in the sky.”

I was transfixed, content to stand and watch as the clouds flowed and changed, but Isaiah soon grew antsy and we walked on. A few blocks later we came to our next to last turn, a left one. I had been noticing as we approached the turn that as the sun set, the air around us was gradually darkening but that as it did, instead of simply getting blacker, the color of the light was changing.

The atmosphere was taking on a nature that had an effect on me even more profound than the one noted above. Not only were we surrounded by the powerful chairoscuro of the storms mottled legacy of solar rays, but coupled with this was a peculiar and unusual timbre of indigo dusk light that excites me in a mysterious way.

On evenings like this when this light strikes, my breath is almost taken away. For some reason this charged gloom (and as I say the word ‘gloom’ here it has ringingly positive connotations only), this suboceanic glow grabs hold of my sentiment and resonates through my personality to days when I was Isaiah’s age and the world was bigger and less known. The future loomed with infinite possibility and my heart raced to dream of what might be in store.

So it was as we turned left to walk in this magic air, my heart stretched from past to future and humming with a chord of possibility I have missed for a long time, a firefly flashed in front of us- and then another and another.

“Look dad! Fireflies- they’re talking to each other.”

“Yes they are.”

“They’re talking to us, too. We should call this Firefly Lane!”

When we got home we sat out back and watched the fantastic sparkle of the tiny creatures flitting and coruscating as the electric air that affected me so darkened slowly to purple and then to black. Ruth and Gideon joined as after awhile and Gideon would point to each firefly as it switched on. At first he couldn’t keep up with them all, but eventually as dusk gave way to night the fireflies slowed down and it was time for us all to go in and put the boys to bed.