Fireflies carry for me a melancholy magic not entirely amenable to words. I believe the wistfulness I feel each summer when they appear has something to do with childhood fireflies, rising in the thousands above the shallow creek fronting my grandfather’s old stone farmhouse.

The uninitiated among you might dismissively claim the fireflies numbered much fewer and swelled only in memory, but the recollection of them rising in an almost impenetrable cloud to illuminate the big old tree on the bank of that creek is a shared one. My mother remembers. My sister remembers.

“The lightning bugs… remember the lightning bugs on Grandpa’s farm? How we used to sit on the porch and watch them?”

That bit of family lore lights up the eyes of those who witnessed the spectacle; but, our words, our mere descriptors, lack the power required to stretch our cloak of wonderment around the children who arrived too late to the family — born long after the farm was sold and the fireflies had dissolved into their final night.

In place of words, however, I offer this mandala piece, titled Fireflies and Memory, with the assurance that there were thousands of fireflies — thousands upon thousands upon thousands, to be exact — lifting from the creek in a world that lives on only in memory.

An art card featuring this piece is available. And check out these amazing photos of New York fireflies created by Pete Mauney and posted by NPR.

Linda Gribko is an avid gardener, naturalist, author, artist, and photographer living just outside Morgantown, West Virginia, on a one-acre property she calls Yellow Bird's Rest. She's been gardening since the age of three, when she was put to work plucking rocks from the family vegetable patch, and was gifted her first growlight set-up at the age of eight. Linda is best known for her wildflower photography and the digital mandala art she creates from her nature photos, but is also a mixed media artist and published author. Her quirky first novel, "Giving Voice to Dawn", was published in November 2016 and was followed up with "The Lion's Apprentice" in June 2020. The series follows the magical romp of a woman plucked by the Universe from the cubicles of Corporate America and dropped into the crease between "this world and that" where Spirit Animals carry messages, disembodied voices spout wisdom, and you never know who might show up to walk you back home.

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