by Jennifer on May 8, 2009

How she remembers it after all this time, I couldn’t tell you.

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.

{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

V-Grrrl May 8, 2009 at 6:03 am

This is stunning, magical, soulful, wonderful. A post I’ll ALWAYS REMEMBER.


Jenn @ Juggling Life May 8, 2009 at 7:02 am

It sounds wonderful.

You’ve brought back visceral memories of my “Wheee!” road. It was near the Grapevine, on the way to my uncle’s house. If there was fog, there was no wheeee, because you had to drive very slowly–there were many massive and deadly pileups on that road. But if it was sunny and you could fly . . .!


Christy May 8, 2009 at 7:09 am

What beautiful words…you’ve painted an incredible picture!


Jessica May 8, 2009 at 9:13 am

we don’t get fireflies here in L.A. I can’t wait to take Phoebe back to NY where we get them by the dozens (in the suburbs that is)


Daryl May 8, 2009 at 9:21 am

Amazing the images we store away .. most are strongly associated/linked to something physical, usually a scent .. apparently our scent synapses are the strongest .. are there scent synapses?


fancy feet May 8, 2009 at 10:43 am

So, so beautiful. I know what you mean…about days and nights and moments you’ll always remember. I can see why you would remember this.


Ree May 8, 2009 at 11:09 am

Aahhhhhh. Midwestern moons. They are something to behold.


The fireflies are going to be especially bright to welcome you all back.


Madge May 8, 2009 at 11:20 am

once again freaking beautiful writing


Thumbelina May 8, 2009 at 11:29 am

I have never seen or held a firefly. They are magical creatures to me. And you just brought them nearer.

The way you write is entrancing – “As though green won some contest over all the other colors…” – you have such a talent. You take me to the places you are at and have been. Thank you!


Kat May 8, 2009 at 3:00 pm

You almost made me cry rememberiing my own childhood summers, and the fireflies, and the treefrogs…what a beautiful post.


Green Girl in Wisconsin May 8, 2009 at 7:37 pm

What a cool sentiment. And yes, fireflies are magical and always make a moment memorable.


flutter May 8, 2009 at 8:49 pm

your writing continues to improve! ;p

really babe, you are a brilliant and gifted artist with words.


maggie, dammit May 9, 2009 at 8:16 am

Fireflies. Scribes. Two of my favorite images, woven so beautifully together. I love it.


jenrantsraves May 9, 2009 at 5:35 pm

“Took it all in, deep, as though a group of tiny scribes in a quiet corner of my soul wrote it all down.” Damn, I love that line! And I wish I had been there – or that you took your camera!


Heather May 10, 2009 at 8:52 pm

This is hauntingly beautiful. I like to think that my kids will be kind and not pull wings off of little creatures but they are still young. I do not know what the future brings. It is exciting and scary. And hauntingly beautiful.


apathy lounge May 11, 2009 at 12:06 pm

How is it that you write so beautifully….and so often?


phd in yogurtry May 11, 2009 at 12:34 pm

The wheeeee road I remember was in south jersey through a patch of forest known as Muttontown Woods, very tall trees, driving through a “tree tunnel.” I can remember, as a little kid, walking through the woods with my neighbor’s dad who was an avid glass bottle collector. He told us the “Jersey Devil” lived in those woods. I remember straining my eyes to find the “devil.”

Oh, and just a few minutes ago I heard that Slaid Cleaves song I was telling you about: (Come back to the) “Green Mountains and Me” on his new album “Everything You Love WIll Be Taken Away”.

Is this the album you were listening to? Or Broke Down. That was the song I listened to faithfully on my walkman one summer. I was having trouble conceiving and decided to “get healthy” so I started walking every day. My twins were born about 10 months later : ))


Chris May 11, 2009 at 1:03 pm

Beautiful, Jennifer. Stunning piece. Indiana is full of “weee roads”. I was more like your son, made me car sick. Driving from Winchester, to Marion, to Ft. Wayne, to Lake Wawasee… fireflies, corn fields, Amish farms. To have lived in Indiana, guarantees a visit by the scribe you described.


the mama bird diaries May 11, 2009 at 7:19 pm

lovely post Jennifer

My girls love that weeee feeling in their stroller when we go over curbs.


we_be_toys May 12, 2009 at 9:14 am

Beautiful images! I’m wondering how you could stay away this long, and now that you’re going back, how can you ever leave?
These are the same questions that I ask myself about going to PA, and I never get to stay as long as you do.
(deep wistful sigh)
Mmm, Amish farms – that term has such visual impact for me.
I love it when green wins out over all the other colors!


Indigo May 12, 2009 at 4:18 pm

Words of delicacy that play over my soul…Thank you! (Hugs)Indigo


anymommy May 13, 2009 at 2:05 pm

Fireflies are the thing I miss the most about my childhood in the Midwest. They would draw me back to Ohio in the summer with all my kids in the 100 degree heat just to let them experience fireflies everywhere.

Your writing brought it all back into my mind – brilliant.


Kimberly May 13, 2009 at 6:55 pm

The fireflies here in our yard are spectacular. They should be here within a week or two. After reading this post, I really cannot wait.


Hilary May 14, 2009 at 6:26 am

There is just so much beauty in everything you write, remember and feel. And you share.. how wonderful is that?


JCK May 15, 2009 at 11:12 pm

So lovely. I miss fireflies. And love to read stories about them to my children.


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