In Indiana, not far from where we used to live, there’s a county road with a few miles of great hills – the kind that when you drive over them (a little above the speed limit, necessarily) make your stomach leap and fall.
My daughter loves that feeling, and begs to drive on roads like that. My son does not, which is fine…we’re all knit together in different ways. (He looks forward to getting up early to fish this summer.)
The thing is, though five years have passed since we moved here and the kids and I have only been back to Indiana once, four years ago, she still remembers that road. From time to time, and more often now that we plan to spend the summer there (and longer?), she asks about it. When we talk about what we’ll do there this summer, that road comes up a lot.
One evening, late in the summer I was alone in my car and driving home. It was one of those nights that makes you think I will never forget this and, unlike most of them, you actually don’t forget. The sun had just rolled over one horizon and a low shelf of voluptuous clouds rested on the other, in the direction I traveled. Neat and expansive Amish farms, lush and green, spread out forever from both sides of the road. As though green won some contest over all the other colors.
The road dipped and rose again with each hill and I came to a part of the road with corn fields on both sides. As I topped a hill, I saw the full moon, big as a dinner plate and bright, rising from the décolletage of pink-washed clouds.
And then I noticed, on either side of the road, among endless rows of corn, the fireflies. Thousands and thousands of them threaded through the corn like strings of white lights, blinking in some kind of pattern that only they could know.
I slowed the car and stared. Took it all in, deep, as though a group of tiny scribes in a quiet corner of my soul wrote it all down.
The moon. The fireflies. A few stars. (My headlights, so out of place.)
And I felt it. That feeling my girl gets, on that road she called “the weeeee road.” For another reason, but I felt it.
My kids remember fireflies, I think, but after this summer they will know them in a whole new way. Will have held them, will have let them crawl over and between their fingers, up their arms. If they are kinder than I was as a child, they will leave them intact and whole to fly off into the night.
Throughout this summer – I’m not afraid to say, because I am sure of it – so many moments will settle into their bones and into the fibers of soul.
And I’ll think of little scribes at little desks, in quiet corners of their souls, transcribing as fast as they can these vast, simple things.