My wife and I have never been to the Smokies to see the synchronous firefly show and since there is a yearly lottery for spots I assumed we wouldn’t get a chance to see them.
Turns out there is a small valley with a stream running through it and a colony of fireflies that has recently opened to the public; it’s about a four minute drive from our house. My wife found out about it yesterday afternoon and we decided to go last night. We were the first customers; we parked, paid our admission, and walked back along the stream to a widening in the gravel road. A small cottage sat at the edge of the water, a singer was already warming up, and the host greeted us and told us to set up our chairs anywhere we liked.
More people arrived as the light faded, singles and couples and families spread out along the gravel road. We faced a steep hill. Across the stream behind us was a heavily wooded area that we could barely see into even before darkness fell.
There were no city lights, no noise besides the guitarist and the conversation among the visitors, and as things got darker I began to see an occasional flash of light.
I understand the Smokies show is spectacular; this one was more subtle. Settled back in my chair, I was surprised by two, then four, then ten or a dozen fireflies flashing in unison. If I got up and walked another fifty feet or so down the road there were more; if I turned around and stared into the mysterious woods behind me there were fewer, silently flashing from deep within the trees and undergrowth. A lovely evening, right around the edge of the mountain from our house, down a gravel road I had passed dozens of times without realizing what magic there was a short drive and even shorter walk away.