Thursday, February 04, 2010

Reminders of fireflies

I wake happily before 5 most mornings these days - love being up in the early dark, early light. It's blissfully quiet. There are no cars. No dogs barking. The harbour gulls and neighbourhood birds are still asleep, sweet heads tucked neatly underwing. 

There's an interesting energy in the air at the moment and it's not just because we're finally experiencing summer. It's deliciously warm for a change, but this is about more than that. The energy I'm talking about is fiery - the kind that comes with a buzz and crackle. Good fire. Welcome fire. Fire that energizes, rather than scolds, devastates or scorches. It's transformational - in the way light is. 

Do you feel it, too? 

Light dancing in a tin bucket  - Antarctica 2005

Speaking of light, this morning I visited The Tearful Dishwasher and was reminded of fireflies. (Thank you, Tearful.). The image on his latest post took me back to a time and place I return to often in heart and mind and is one I am always grateful to be reminded of. 

Four years ago, my good friend Katherine and I spent three days and nights with a river in the lap of the Du Toit's Kloof mountains. 

I told Tearful how we'd both needed the river "... to be afloat in it, carried by it, near it' and how on the third night '... the black mountains flanking the river like curious custodians came alive with flocks (not swarms) of fireflies. They were big as birds. We had never seen anything like it before - and haven't since. For what might have been an hour or so, but was a timeless time in the way such moments are, we watched them delighting in the moonless night... I have never forgotten its magic."

How susceptible are we to seduction by light and fire? 

I know I am. At the moment, for instance, I'm working on an exciting and somewhat unexpected project - a film. It's totally firing me up - I especially love the fact that it's a collaboration, that we have an absurdly tight timeline and that its completion depends entirely on people's trust, creative surrender and generosity of spirit. This is the very best way to work. Fire under foot, in the belly, ablaze in the group.  

Robert Wilkinson over on Aquarius Papers posted this marvelous piece by Goethe a day or two ago - 

“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way.”

Goethe's encouraging us to think in terms of capacity, rather than limitation. Not necessarily a simple straight line, this, but definitely worth a try!


PS. I have enough parsley in my garden right now - Italian and the old-fashioned, crinkly-perm kind - to send in all directions; as fast as I pick it, it multiplies. Every day, I bring a small armful into the kitchen to snip and pop into the freezer. It'll come in handy some months from now, when soup weather returns... would anyone out there like some? 


  1. Yes, sometimes the early morning comes with a crackling charge--super-alertness.

    I share your love of fireflies.

    That's some blue in your photo!

  2. In my bakery days, some of the best times were the 5:30am summer mornings: instead of car exhaust on the busy highway, I could smell the salt water of Puget Sound. Pink sky, quiet, and the firing-up of the ovens. Lovely stuff to remember!

    I would love some parsley. Alas. Can you send some by e'mail?!

  3. Bird-sized fireflies - wow! I'd also mind pictured fireflies as teenie tiny tinkerbell lights - airborne glowworms. I remember seeing the sea at Waiheke Island light up with phosphorescence (too scientific a word for such a magical sight.) It was breath taking. Do I feel it in the air now? Too busy getting ready for school to notice, but it's a good thought that the plankton (firefly beetles) might be in the absorbing phase, in order to radiate when the light dims.

  4. p.s. yes please. I would love a small parsel y x

  5. Yes, the quality of light is so different in winter (here on the other side of the world). Enjoyed your reflections about light and energy.

  6. Hi Mim - I've been moving in slow motion these past few days, more like an axolotl than a firefly; life (or perhaps 'tis I) seem(s) to be a matter of flames and ash, flare, then crash... if nothing else, it keeps me on my toes.

    I've enjoyed wandering Meridian Street and its surrounds with you during the weeks you've been holidaying there. The walkways are full of characters and colour - and you have such a terrific eye for detail.

    That blue is something, isn't it? The odd thing was that it wasn't in evidence until the camera captured it in this photograph. Does this make the eye more or less accurate than the camera, I wonder?

    Congrats on this evening's Saints/Superbowl victory! The event was enthusiastically covered on Radio NZ's news today!

    L, C

  7. T. Clear - hello! I love the sound of your 'bakery days', 'the salt water of Puget Sound' (a place that sounds ever so familiar but that I'll need to visit on Google), 'the firing-up of the ovens... '

    Once upon a time, I met a young woman on an airplane; it wasn't long before she started telling about her job - her passion - and how much she loved it. She was a pastry & bread chef and was en-route to the kitchen at the South Pole! She was knitting as we flew South - a small rug, she said, for her sister - and spoke with such passion about her job, her vocation. SHe loved what she did, said she found rising yeast a joy, and plaiting dough a meditative exercise. When she got stressed, she'd knead bread; its warmth and smell never failed to calm her. When I was a girl I dreamed of starting up a bakery... you actually did it. (When you write about food on your blog, you get us all salivating!)

    I'm sending you some e-parsley...

    There you go...

    Did you get it? Can you smell it? Taste it? It's chock-full of NZ Summer.


  8. Hi PamelaMM - I've always loved the word 'phosphorescence'! For me, it's all enchantment, effervescence, luminescence. Quite aside from the allure of our mysterious, flickering bio-sphere... 'phosphorescence' makes the perfect ArtScience word!

    Parsley coming your way later this week?

  9. Greetings, Reading the Signs - and welcome!

    Thank you for joining the conversation. I'm looking forward to visiting your blog today.

    Keep warm in your Northern Hemisphere light.

    L, C

  10. Thank you, Claire. I've been fighting against a large river it seems, perhaps I should go with the current for a while. I fight too hard sometimes, which isn't bad until I become exhausted - I think I'm there. I'm headed to the river maybe tomorrow night for certain Saturday and last time I was there the fireflies turned into trees, covered them, became the leaves. I'll try to capture them this weekend. Do you have them in NZ? I didn't have them in California where I grew up, but I've always loved them.