It’s firefly season here in DC! I love fireflies and, for as long as they stick around, I try to make time to see them in the evenings. I’m sure there’s some deep philosophical reason that I love them that I would work to bring out in an essay,1 but honestly, I love them without reflection and always have, and some things are just better that way.

One of my biggest dreams is to see the fireflies in Japan, which is something most people associate with extremely sad film Grave of the Fireflies.2 I don’t remember why, but I’ve always sort of associated fireflies with Japan, long before seeing that movie. I assume it’s something picked up in random associations. It’s a strong enough association that I actually remember the word for firefly: hotaru.3 And when it comes to anime, it’s not really Grave of the Fireflies I think of. It’s Rurouni Kenshin, weirdly.

There are also big firefly viewing events in Tennessee I’ve always wanted to go to. But sadly you have to reserve them a long time in advance, and I won’t get to go this year. And I would also like to go see the caves full of glow worms. But I’m afraid of caves.

One thing I love about fireflies is that they’re so hard to capture in any form of art. They never, ever look as magical on film or even painted or drawn as they do in real life. Attempts to use different film techniques–time lapse, long exposure–never really get it either. There’s something locked in the now about them. They’re like cherry blossoms that way. The moment they’ve passed, they’re poetic and imaginary, and looking at something flattened never really does it justice. But writing works on the same principle of the imaginary, and I hope I’ll someday write a really great firefly scene in a book.

Speaking of books, mine comes out tomorrow and I’m trying to avoid thinking about it.

Anyway, go outside and enjoy them if you live in an area with fireflies!

  1. One might begin with the projected loneliness humans feel when viewing little beacons in the night so close together, calling out to each other.
  2. It’s easy use the word “depressing” here, which of course it is, but depressing I feel emphasizes a negative effect on the viewer which isn’t quite appropriate here.
  3. Sailor Saturn!!