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“It’s best to catch them at dusk,” Rowena told me.

We dashed outside, barefoot, jars in hand. It was as if dozens of eyes were hovering in the warm air, winking and blinking at us, trailing ellipsis. They’re not so different from the sparks you see when you press on your eyelids. Fireflies are the thoughts you reach for, disappearing just as they are within grasp.

I stayed up late each night, recording the adventures of the day. I knew if I waited until the morning, they’d be gone. Hide and seek in empty cupboards and behind slabs of collapsed boxes; exclaiming over a snapping turtle wandering across the lawn; writing poetry about the the belltower so similar to Isengard; looking out from the rounded peak of Granite Mountain; making pancakes from scratch. 

“When they land on that tree over there, it lights up like a Christmas tree,” she told me. We chased them from the back yard to the front, those elusive will-o’-the-wisps. The sky was their downfall. Silhouetted against the dusk they became visible to us. We caught them in jars. Up close, they were simply beetles with whirring wings. Released into the night, they were the freedom of summer incarnate.