Growing up in a rural Maryland town with over an acre of land there were always plenty of things to do outside. Especially in the summertime. Our yard had zones for different activities: the baseball field always stood ready for its next game, the war zone came complete at one time with a real army tent, the shed and clubhouse arena hosted many a meeting, the old tree stump doubled as home base for any number of different games played, the dogwood and fairy ring underneath it were easy hangout spots, and the front porch never grew weary of our sleep-outs.
Once the last day of school arrived we were already making plans to sleep out on the porch. An assortment of blankets, pillows, sleeping bags and sheets littered the porch floor but the coveted sleeping spot was the porch swing. Similar to calling “shotgun” for front seat position in the car, sleeping in the swing was decided in like manner. We all wanted to sleep there. My own memories of not quite fitting into the space, even as small as I was, and shifting to get more comfortable only brought more awkward and jerky movements of the swing that took longer than I wanted to settle down again. But when I was in just the right position and there was a slight breeze blowing across the porch, the wind picked up the corner of the swing and rocked me back and forth, back and forth, back and forth until sleep snuck into my eyes and my body relaxed into its suspended slumber.
But long before any sleeping took place we had our games to play. Armed with mason jars crammed full of grass and clover our hunts always began at dusk when the glow of their bodies lit up the yard like stars so close you could almost touch them. Fireflies are elusive that way, though. They’re never quite as close as you think so as you reach out to snag them you’re more often than not grabbing at air while they’re laughing at your failed attempt to capture their light.
The fun was in the chase and our yard had plenty of fireflies that gave plenty of chase. And as often as we provided a comfortable Mason jar living environment with a custom-punched lid for air, our detainees never seemed quite so grateful in return. Plus Mom always made us take off the lid if they were still alive by morning. Our protestations and claims that our bedrooms would now have natural nightlights never seemed to win that battle, but never prevented us from catching more, either.
Tonight I saw a firefly as I relaxed on my patio and my heart surged with joy as I entertained the thought of grabbing a sleeping bag and my pillow. I call the swing!