It’s a little embarassing to admit this … I’ve been back to working out more regularly and so have gained weight, as I usually do. And this would be fine, except that I haven’t lost the extra fat I gained in the Netherlands. (I’m not sure if it was from the change in diet, the hotel breakfasts, or what.) So I have resorted to weight-loss drugs. In my case, this means that I had a big cup of coffee this morning. I’ll probably be feeling a little wonky after lunch but at least I won’t be plowing through pretzels like a starved locust. I might even have a cup tomorrow. At least it’s pretty good coffee: the office has one of those machines that grind the beans fresh every time you brew a cup.

On pleasanter topics, Mrissa has posted about the Fourth Street Fantasy convention. It does sound like a lot of fun, but I can’t go. However, the comments there got me remembering fireflies.

Fireflies – lightning bugs – on summer nights are one of the magical things about growing up in Pennsylvania, even if you’re in the city. On a warm night in June, it can look like the stars came to visit. As if designed for the pleasure of kids, they fly slowly enough to be easily caught, and if you’re gentle it seems to do them no harm. If you put a few into a jar, you have a lantern made by Nature, no batteries required. I never kept them overnight though, because I wasn’t sure what they ate.

The downside to being easily caught, for the fireflies, is that mean kids will sometimes make the glowing rear segments into rings. I never figured out how to do this, however, and didn’t have enough interest (or ruthlessness) to figure it out.

Not everyone appreciates lightning bugs as much as I do, though. I wasn’t surprised when my counselor wasn’t amused, the time I collected several on the walk back from the mess hall one night at camp and released them into our cabin. I was surprised, though, that my fellow campers (aged about eight) didn’t want them inside. Some people turn into boring grownups far too early.

The fireflies were even more amazing when I went back to that camp years later as a counselor myself. (Junior counselor, technically, as I was 16 – in the first display of the irresponsibility they were to show all that summer, the camp directors put me and an equally inexperienced 16-year-old in charge of a bunk of 11 to 13-year-olds even though we were the only two JCs on staff. I wasn’t surprised when the camp closed a couple years later.) As a counselor, I got to stay up later: two boys’ and two girls’ counselors were on duty each night until 11, a rotating roster, and all of our partying was done after that, on the tennis courts at the edge of the camp. I don’t think we can have had those parties all that often, really, but they seem almost nightly in memory. It wasn’t disturbed much at nigh, except by us, and especially in the first half of the summer, the fireflies lit up the trees to look like Christmas. I have very fond memories of a grassy field, those tiny lights sparkling in the trees, a bonfire lighting up a group of late-adolescents, and an illicit beer in my hand, and campfires, fireflies, and sometimes even the taste of cheap beer can bring back good memories.