I grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia. Bucks County to be specific. Far, far away (or so I thought) from a vacation cabin in the New River Gorge region of West Virginia.
I was definitely not the city streets, but not nearly as rural as here in New River Country, either. When I was just a young tot (hard to imagine, I know), one of favorites was when dad would build a fire in the fire pit in the back yard. That usually happened on a warm summers evening and it meant friends and family would be joining us.
Roasting marshmallows, making s’mores and catching fireflies were the top activities of the youngsters. Roasting the mallows and creating the perfect s’more was always supervised by an adult or at least one of the teens in the group. Then, when the sun was long gone and the fireflies began emerging from the grass making their ascent to the tree tops, we were free to go get’ em.
The hunt was on. We gathered jars with carefully crafted foil lids with holes so the tiny that captives would have plenty of air, but no hope of escape. I wasn’t the most compassionate kid.
The idea was to get enough fireflies into the jar to simulate a lantern. Once we had collected a jar full of the all natural illuminating creature,s it was off to explore the caverns and search for Injun Joe, or something just like him. Our childhood treasures were usually found under the huge Lilac bush that resided in the back yard. It was mom’s voice calling for us that snapped us out of our fantasy adventures, I can still hear her to this day. That’s when the foil lids were torn off the jars and the fireflies were set free.
See? I wasn’t all bad.
I thought we had a lot of fireflies back then, but the number of fireflies here in the New River Gorge area is amazing. Sometimes there are so many that the trees look as if they have lights strung over them. If you’re here, you should let your kids in on this great tradition. Heck, you may want to try it yourself. Get yourself a Mason jar and some foil and get out there with your kids and show them how.
And if you’ve never tried catching fireflies yourself, do yourself a favor and get going. Summer’s almost gone. And so is the season for catching firefleis.