Sunday, June 16, 2013

Tropical Storms and Fireflies

With tropical storm season comes firefly season. We're equally excited about both for different reasons.

Storms can be exciting. After living for two years in Egypt, we were excited to move back to Utah where they have these things called "weather" and "seasons." Egypt cycles from hot to not-as-hot and back to hot without hardly a change in precipitation (unless you count the dust storms as precipitation). It hailed once the two years we were there. And it rained a handful of times. Maybe.

Utah was more interesting. North Carolina, though, is even more interesting because we get tropical storms with lots of rain and thunder and lightning. I love watching a good long as it's not too close (because only 50% of me enjoys storms; the other half is terrified (kind of like Rachel and the deep end)).

Anyway, we had our first tropical storm roll through here last Friday—Tropical Storm Andrea—and she brought a lot of rain with her. I had to go outside to move my potted plants to the front balcony (since some of my pots don't have adequate drainage and because we had to clear off the back deck anyway). Miriam came outside with me and enjoyed splashing in the puddles all around our yard:

She came inside completely drenched, shivering with cold. I helped her into some dry clothes, which she decided to peel off in favour of her bathing suit when we went to meet Rachel's bus (for the last time of the school year).

It was still pouring and since Miriam was in her bathing suit, Rachel wanted to don hers. She rushed inside to put it on but by the time she was ready Miriam decided that she didn't want to go outside anymore so I went out to splash with Rachel.

It was cold and wet. But fun.

The little stream that runs through our backyard transformed into a rip-roaring current, swelling over its banks (but fortunately not enough to enter the "yard" part of our yard).

Other places were not so lucky; roads were being closed due to flash flooding and things like that. And this was just a storm not a hurricane. One storm down, seventeen(ish) to go before hurricane season is over! If nothing else, Tropical Storm Andrea has reminded us to go through our 72-hour kits!

The fireflies are exciting simply because they're kind of magical. We noticed them when we were driving home from church on Thursday night (it was Relief Society night and Andrew had played chauffeur because we were already getting pounded by Andrea and I just couldn't handle driving in that much rain while dark was approaching)—tiny golden lights blinking in the grass. It took us a while to realize what they were.

When we got home we all piled out of the van and instead of going inside immediately started chasing fireflies.

Our neighbours were out walking their dogs and they saw us running around in the grass in the dark and asked us what we were up to.

"Are you trying to catch a frog?" they asked.

"No, fireflies!" Rachel answered.

"It's our first time!" I explained. "We've never seen fireflies before."

"You've never seen fireflies?!" our neighbour asked.

"No. We don't have them in the west."

"Oh, well, just wait. It gets better. As it gets warmer and warmer there are more and more fireflies... I suppose it would seem kind of magical if you'd never seen them before," she said, noting the mesmerized, delighted expressions on our children's (and probably our) faces.

Andrew, of course, has memories of chasing fireflies when he was younger since he lived in North Carolina until he was eight. One particular memory his family shares is doing a lesson on The Iron Rod for Family Home Evening. They were in the backyard acting out Lehi's Dream—they'd been instructed to hold to the iron rod (which was a rope or something in their lesson but which in real life is the word of God, or the scriptures) and to not let go, no what temptations they faced. As Andrew and his sisters filed along the rope, they turned down offers of ice cream and candy from their father, who was tempting them to let go of the rope. 

Nothing could deter them from their path of righteousness until that magical moment between day and night when the fireflies took to the air and began blinking their mating call. 

One by one those little Heiss children let go of that rope and started chasing after fireflies. 

It wasn't a particularly successful family night considering all of the children were lost in the mists of darkness, thanks to those fireflies, but it sure makes for a good story now! 

I think my only previous encounter with fireflies was when I went with my mother to Germany and we were walking back to our hotel one night after spending the day doing viola everything (we were at the International Viola Congress). Fortunately, we'd made the decision to walk back to the hotel with a few other people who were staying in our same hotel, so we weren't alone wandering the streets of Kronberg late at night. Instead we were in a group of four or five.

My mother and I have an astounding lack of sense of direction (Andrew and his mother, on the other hand, have an amazing sense of direction) and apparently everyone else we were also easily disoriented because we ended up hopelessly lost. We wandered around for what seemed like hours and our feet were aching, but we didn't realize how entirely lost we were until we saw a sign informing us that we were leaving the city of Kronberg. 

We stood and stared at that sign for a minute, realizing our predicament and weighing our options. Finally we turned around and started wandering back the direction we came, eventually finding an open establishment—a tavern—where we asked for directions and made our way back to our hotel in the wee hours of the morning. 

That trip to Germany was ten years go, but when I imagine us walking through the misty, cobblestoned, tree-lined streets, I think I see little blips of light dancing through the bushes, encouraging us to wander farther and farther off track.

Fireflies are just pesky creatures!

1 comment:

  1. I'm glad you enjoyed TS Andrea and have pictures to prove it! It was a rather chilly day. I've been through other tropical systems that felt a lot more tropical. I tend to like them, too, if they aren't TOO damaging. It's kind of exciting to see the satellite images and all that stuff the meteorologists like to show. I'm glad you and the girls could enjoy playing in the puddles.

    I didn't realize lightning bugs (that's what I call fireflies though I know both terms)were not out west until the other day when I was asking on Facebook whether people called them lightning bugs or fireflies, and some of my friends in CA and WA mentioned not having them. We had some friends from WV down this week and their grandchildren (ages 9 and 7) were chasing them one evening.

    Great pictures!