When I was kid during the summer months, lightning bugs, or fireflies, were my favorite sign that summer had begun, so that’s what came to mind with our prompt of “lightning” today. A few, at least, captured for a moment in a mason jar. Though we have plenty of thunderstorms and actual lightning here during summer, I caught a glimpse of one of these little flying beetles glowing last night and was thrilled to see it. I remember chasing them gleefully through the evening as the sun was setting as a child. I was reading an article once about why some people in the United States call them lightning bugs and others call them fireflies. I always knew them as lightning bugs, which is most common in the Midwest and the South, where lightning storms are more prevalent. If you’re in the West, you’re more likely to call them fireflies, though it’s rarer to see a flashing one, where wild fires are more prevalent. There’s no proof that this was the exact reason for the difference in names, but it seems perfectly plausible, so it’s what I choose to believe. Of course, just two names wouldn’t be enough for this wonder of nature so there are tons of others including Blinkies, Moon Bugs, Golden Sparklers, and Fire Devils. As it turns out, something that flies about with a glowing butt is apparently rather difficult to accurately describe.
I’ve always called them lightning bugs, because indeed any flashes of light here remind me of lightning storms. Lightning was equal parts terrifying and thrilling when I was a kid, but when you’re a kid in these cases, the fear subsides and the thrill always wins out. The same thing happened with tornadoes. While cowering in our basement, I secretly wanted to go outside to actually view one in person. A stupidly dangerous idea, to be sure, but that’s the plight of the curious. Thankfully, no tornadoes have ever gotten quite that close, until a couple of weeks ago when one skipped by just a bit too close the city. So, in the end, I prefer the calmer natural wonders like lightning bugs. It’s quite clear when it comes to the weather that we’ve pissed nature off and one can only hope we learn to dance with it instead of always blindly ignoring the importance of harmony. Philippe loves dinosaurs, and certainly their impressive 165 million years on this planet pales in comparison to our own. Our own species has been around only about 200,000 years, but only truly human as we know it for a much, much shorter period. Humans are quite different, however, since they aren’t naturally prone to live in tandem with an ecosystem, but more likely to lean toward an “egosystem” instead. Perhaps, there’s something very important to learn from the dinosaurs after all.
For my own part, I’ve always adored nature. I love that we get to live alongside so many different and fascinating creatures. I was the kid who would capture lightning bugs along with the others, but only for a moment before letting them go again. I would have been heartbroken if I thought I’d separated a little glowing beetle from his wife and children for very long. My favorite part was indeed the moment when I released them back into the world, harboring just a bit of guilt for my curious indulgence. I only wanted to capture of bit of that magic and that was such an overwhelming feeling that I got a bit lost in the moment. Today, I turn instead to watercolor to recreate many of those moments. I hope to capture just a tiny glimpse of that magical feeling that I had once before, in a time when I didn’t know what was coming next. A single moment of joy that now feels perfectly timeless. Though the world charges forward with new and incredible things to offer every day, life has always been truly incredible. Sometimes, you just have to pause for a moment and really look at what it naturally has to offer. So, I’ll chose to keep showing up with my tiny glimpses of the most mundane things while, for a moment, stopping only to ponder if I should call these tiny miracles lightning bugs, or fireflies.
About the Doodlewash
Da Vinci Paint Co.: Aureolin, Quinacridone Red, Terra Cotta and Cobalt Blue. Lamy Al-Star Safari Fountain Pen with black ink in an A5 Hahnemühle Watercolour Book. Want to purchase a print of this doodlewash? Send me a note with a link to this post, and I’ll add it to my shop!
Creator of Doodlewash®, founder of World Watercolor Month (July), World Watercolor Group™, and host of the Sketching Stuff Podcast. Sharing daily watercolor illustrations and stories while proudly featuring talented artists from all over the world! If you’d like to be a guest artist on Doodlewash.com, contact me!