May 27, 2013 in Features

The Slice: Some memories are best kept to ourselves

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Little kids in the Inland Northwest are so lucky.

They can grow up innocent and pure, unburdened by the guilt weighing down some of us who spent childhood in certain other parts of the country.

Local children won’t have to cope with the haunting memory of murdering fireflies.

Trust me. It’s not something you want to carry around forever.

As you might know, fireflies, which we don’t have here, are winged beetles that produce an intermittent glow visible at night. This luminescent display is one of the wonders of summer back East. It’s truly a sight to behold.

They’re sometimes called lightning bugs, though their gentle exhibition is silent and harmless.

When a bunch of them are out, they can anoint a summer night with a note of natural grace.

But you know how kids are. Sooner or later, someone is going to think of capturing fireflies in a jar. They are not hard to catch.

Trapped in a glass cage, they continue to produce soft flashes of light. The jars become lanterns.

Sometimes kids will eventually unscrew the lids and release the bugs to resume their rounds. Not always though.

I don’t know who first discovered it. But it turns out that if you smear a lightning bug on the sidewalk after dark, you create a fleeting streak of luminescence. It’s like a single stroke of a magical paint brush.

Some kids – boys mostly, I suppose – find this fascinating. They will repeat the experiment many times.

I wish I had not done that. I wish I could go back and whisper in the ear of my childhood self.

“Don’t. Let them go. They are living creatures. They can do something special. Just watch them and give thanks.”

So maybe it really is good that Spokane area kids who might be tempted to abuse these insects don’t have the chance. Still, it’s too bad other children here don’t get to observe the peaceful light show.

Well, children and adults, I should say.

Some of us would love a second chance.

Today’s Slice question (please complete this classic line with a word or phrase of your own choosing): Now is the winter of our discontent, made glorious summer by….

Write The Slice at P. O. Box 2160, Spokane, WA 99210; call (509) 459-5470; email pault@spokesman.com. Dave Christiansen will be calling the upcoming season “The Summer of Retirement from the State after 35 Years.”

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