Like many of you, each summer when I was a kid I would get a jar and carefully poke holes in the lid with an ice pick and then collect fireflies in the evening. I mean, who doesn’t love fireflies?
Last Thursday, for the first time, I went with my daughter and friends to see the synchronous fireflies in Elkmont - they only exist 2 places in the world, here in our Smoky Mountains, and somewhere in Thailand.
We arrived around 7:30 with our lawn chairs, umbrellas, sweaters, snacks, and playing cards. I had been told by the park ranger to arrive 2 hours early, after the parking lots are full they close access to the park (thus, the playing cards)… umbrellas for rain, and lawn chairs for a comfortable wait in the woods. Snacks are self explanatory.
There were “regular” fireflies starting about 8:30. At 9:30 I thought, “well, we must have missed them; these are just regular fireflies.” But then, in the next 10 minutes, WOW! All around us in every direction, a synchronous blinking light show, pulsed with pauses when all the fireflies would go out and it was dark again. But here is what really intrigued me. During the wait people were chatting and laughing, running up and down the trail. When the synchronous fireflies began, there was this reverent quiet and even as people moved up and down the trail, more slowly in the dark, a sense of hushed admiration and expectation. It’s hard to describe, but to me it was a sacred spiritual experience. I believe there is a way in which we can connect with our highest best self, and that experiencing nature is a natural bridge for that connection. I also believe that when we do this regularly, it changes us. This was nature at its finest and I am changed.
As of last night, when the rest of the family went to see the show, they were still going strong. If you are in the local area, I encourage you to see for yourself. Those of you who live other places can plan a road trip to Knoxville in early June one year and come see them for yourself.