Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Return of a Childhood Memory

Lightning bugs (or firefly's) are a sign that summer is here in the South. Tonight I stood on my porch and excitedly watched for the first time this year as a few of them lit up the darkness around me!! Seeing them always reminds me of my childhood, when I would catch lightning bugs and put them in a Mason jar with holes in the lid. I have to wonder if today’s generation of kids do this and do they feel the same about lightning bugs that myself and others my age did? And was capturing things and putting them in a Mason jar a "Southern thing?" Because I remember when my Mom would give me two or three Mason jars, and I would punch holes in the tops with a dinner-knife or whatever else I could find and put things like lightning bugs and grasshoppers and yes, even snails in them. Forty years ago, (YIKES!!) we "kids" called this kind of thing fun! My Dad was in the army and I grew up on an army post. For me summer was a time when we looked forward to being outside playing and going barefoot. We went swimming, to the movies on Saturday afternoons and rode our bikes all day without any worries. But when evening came and you could see the lightning bugs, we didn't need a watch to tell us that it was getting late and we'd better be getting home!


  1. Mom says they would take off the glowy part and make it jewelry on their fingers/etc -

    It does always mark the start of 'summer' in Mom's memory too -

    She rekhalls a few years ago my Unkhle Steve was here from China with his wife - she was mesmerized by them!

    Khyra & Khousin Merdie

  2. I never lived anywhere that had fireflies when I was growing up, so I was in my twenties the first time I saw them - I almost couldn't believe they were real, they were so magical. Enchantment is a wonderful thing, at any age!

  3. You and I (Marine Corps brat) have a lot in common, including this wonderful memories of growing up in the south w/ lightning bugs and mason jars...
    Hope you've had a good day,

  4. Oh Cool!

    Lightning bugs are one of the things I truly miss about living back east (a good cheese steak sandwich is also on that list).

    I would collect them in just about anything I could find and was allowed to poke holes in. Like you, I also went after the "highly coveted" grasshopper. To catch one was amazing back then! Lol!

    What a great post and great memories.

    Thanks for sharing!


  5. Hi Kim
    I am going to go look for lightning bugs too.
    I hear cricket and frogs.
    They soumd sooo pretty.
    My moms said when she was a kid her sisters and her used to put everything in jars (even butterflys).
    Your summer is coming sooner than mine. All I can find is Tad Poles to search for. My mommy is still a barefoot mom to this very day.
    Are you?
    She says she thinks of those fun days too. Hop skotch and roller skating on the side walks, and yes riding miles and miles on the bikes to go see her horse.
    I love your jar of lightining bugs.
    I will go look.

  6. I did this many times as a kid. Once in the jar they didn't light up :-( Poor things...

  7. Thanks for the memory. It was a wonderful time for youth, lightning bugs and bare foot days.

  8. How magical - I've never seen them but I get the same thrill when the bats come out and when we lived in Antigua when the sun went down & the tree frogs started to sing. We caught one once & it sat on Roddy's shoulder - a tiny thing with a big voice !

  9. In the 40's I used to collect rocks, bugs or pollywogs and put them in jars. There were some kind of flying thing that made light, but I could never catch them. I thought all this was great fun and this was in California. We played kick the can, hide and seek, set off fire crackers, and read a lot of comic books. Wish I had those comics now.

  10. oh, how times were so simple then...we did the same...i always had a cache of small creatures!
    how's Tanner doing?

  11. we don't have fireflies up here either, although we can buy a solar light, which is a jar with pretend fireflies in it!! Not quite the same I know!

    Gill in Canada

  12. Strange that, here in western NY, we never had lightning bugs when I was a kid, but, we do now. I remember the first time I saw them in my yard several years ago. I was mesmerized.

    Summer memories to me are cool grass, bright sun, and hours of playing Robin Hood or racing stable. Oh, and those sparklers that we used to have on the 4th of July, that you waved in patterns in the night.

  13. Kim, I thought of you last night as I walked across my yard and saw the lightening bugs flitting around. They are such a wonderful memory for me too - especially on evenings like last evening when we had a newly mowed lawn. I feel fortunate to live where I do as we use no pesticides in our farming so we have a more lightening bugs than people who do.

    My daughter, who is 27, always catches lightening bugs in the summer time when she comes to visit me - maybe one day I'll have a granddaughter who will be just as enthralled with them as we are.

    Have a wonderful day,

  14. Dear Kim
    I know we have spoken about fireflies sometime before but what a wonderful reminder and memory! I so miss those days. At least you are not in the city where they are no longer present (because they use their light to find their partners)and get to see such beautiful creatures.
    Yes...wonderful old times! Thank you! Just what I needed today.
    Sending lotsaluv to you.

  15. Not a "Southern thing". being born a Yankee, we would run across the lawn with our glass jars and see who could get the most. It was cool, running in the dark, seeing nothing but lightning bugs and captured lightning bugs in jars!

    I wonder if any of todays children are even allowed to run around holding a glass anything....

    They have been here at my place for a couple of weeks, landing on my window screens and blinking their signal of love.

  16. I've never seen lightning bugs but would sure love to. Oh the joy of catching butterflies in a jar (indeed with poked holes on the lid) and then releasing them a few hours later. There always seemed to be something to entertain us...simple things...and you are just went home once it got dark out. There just didn't seem to be the same worries that there are now.

    Have a lovely day Kim!
    xo Catherine

  17. Hi Kim
    Still waiting for our first lightning bugs in Philadelphia - usually by early-mid June. I remember catching them too:) Thanks for the memories of the better, simpler times we enjoyed as kids.
    Nadine, Apples & Neeli

  18. I grew up in Quebec Canada but I too remember watching the fireflies and wondering how they did that! Years later when I heard they were trying to attract a mate by lighting up I thought "wouldn't it be nice if human beings lit up like that when they see their loved one". :)

  19. Amazing! Yes we captured lightening bugs as kids and put them in jars - I loved to see them turn on and off! We had them in CT where I grew up but there aren't any here. Miss them!
    Hugs xoxoxoxo

  20. Oh man! That was great fun as a kid. We used old mayonaise jars to catch them in and we used to compete to see who would catch the most!

    We used to ride our bikes all day and never had any worries. We knew we had to be home by supper. Seems like the heat never really bothered us - maybe it was because we didn't have air conditioning and you didn't know any better! At night we would play hide and seek or tag. We had to stay in our block after dark. All the parents used to sit on the porches and chat while we kids played.

    I don't think most kids now-a-days play like we used to. Too many electronics. Shame because they don't know what they are missing!

  21. I've never seen lightning bugs, they certainly sound charming, and must be irresisible for kids!

  22. How jealous we are. They've almost disappeared in Europe - pesticides , over building - who knows why. Whatever the reason it's great to know there's still somewhere they fly around ready to be chased by vigilant dogs.

  23. I read about Maguire a while back, fell in love with your blog, but forgot what it was called, so I lost you. I'm glad i found you again and sorry for your loss. I hope Tanner continues to improve. There were fireflies in NJ, thanks for reminding me. -- Inger

  24. We have never seen lightning bugs. Those sure would be fun to chase!

  25. I grew up in SW Oklahoma and playing outside all day was summertime fun. After supper, we'd go back outside and play until the lightening bugs came out. We used mayonaise jars for our bugs. We also caught many horned toads, which today are scarce as hens teeth. What wonderful summer memories!


  26. Kim,
    This brings back so many fond memories of my Dad and I visiting his father in Maryland.
    The Fireflies where everywhere and Dad had never seen them before. He was so amazed that He started to walk in the grass as the whole lawn was lighting up. He laughed so hard that night.
    The next day we went to a cute shop and didn't they have a t-shirt with fireflies on it that glowed in the dark. He bought it for me and I have never forgotten this magical time we spent together.
    Thanks for triggering this memory today. I went back to a special day.

  27. Fireflies are so much fun. Every summer we go up to Minnesota with all my family and we all get Mason jars and have a catching contest to see who can catch the most. We are always laughing, and having a great time. Its funny because you are focusing so hard on catching the firefly that you run into other people/trees/bushes etc. Such a great time.

  28. I've seen them in my travels to the east coast, but they are not a west coast phenomenon! They are pretty darn cool though. I grew up with horny toads, rattle snakes and grasshoppers. We thought coyotes were puppy dogs!!

    BTW - head over to my blog to receive your Versatile Blogger Award
    Formal wear not required (there is no red carpet)....BOL

  29. Uhm, we put things in Mason jars up here in Michigan, too, waaayyyyyy back in the prehistoric times☺

  30. I can't even tell you how happy lightning bugs make me! I treasure watching them on warm summer nights :)

  31. We haven't been catching any fireflies and/or lightning bugs recently. They hang around out front just after sunset. If you put enough of the in a mason jar does it seem like a Coleman lantern? Glad to hear that Tanner is doing better.
    - TBH&K

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