Tag Archives: nature

The Boy, the Book, and the Birds – Part 3

barn swallowUp above us, in the three metal beams that held up the roof of the gas station, was nest after nest filled with baby birds! Every couple of feet along the beams, barn swallows had built their nests and were now busy feeding their young. And each time an adult would fly to the nest, the babies would open their mouths and eat, and the bird would take off again. There were so many of them in one place – we counted at least 20 – and because their location at the gas station meant people were always coming and going, they didn’t seem to mind us one bit. 

We all were out of the car now, just standing by the gas pump and watching the birds. Not only did I wish I had my purse that day, but now I really wished I had a camera. Who knew we would witness such an amazing bit of nature, especially when all we had set out to do was drop off a boy scout book? 

We watched the birds a little longer, then loaded back up in the car and started towards the interstate. I didn’t recognize where we were yet, but I took my best guess as to which direction we needed to go. Fortunately, I chose the right way, and we were finally headed home. Unfortunately, we still had thirty minutes to go. 

As we drove along, we talked about everything that had happened on our adventure. We thought Dad must be home by now and was probably wondering where we were. After all, by the time we pulled back into the driveway, our twenty-minute round trip had taken us nearly two hours! 

But Dad wasn’t even home yet!  The kids thought that was great – we had been on this big adventure, and if they didn’t tell him about it, he would never even know! (They did wait a while to tell him the story.)

Though it had been a long trip, we decided that seeing the birds had made it all worthwhile. Even five-year-old Luke, who doesn’t like long car trips, didn’t seem to mind this one. And we decided we should go back sometime to show the birds to Dad and John… we’d just take a shorter route.

Photo by Jerry Ting

Blue Ghost Fireflies

The_MoonOver the Memorial Day holiday weekend, we went to the Smokey Mountains of Tennessee for a camping trip/family reunion. Late Saturday and Sunday nights, we saw a most amazing sight: the blue ghost fireflies. 

I had first seen these fireflies last year when a friend told me about them. A gentleman in our community, Mr. Don Lewis, has acreage out in the country that is heavily wooded, and each May he invites people to his land to watch the fireflies. We went on Mother’s Day, a good time to go since it wasn’t crowded, and witnessed these beautiful insects. 

The blue ghost fireflies don’t blink – they just glow – and fly low near the ground. If you catch one and shine a light on it, you can see that it’s dark in color and only about as big as a grain of rice. But when you let it go again, it will fly and glow a beautiful luminescent blue color. There were quite a few of these fireflies in Tennessee this year, glowing back in the woods, much like little blue fairies. 

Mr. Lewis has found other types of fireflies on his land as well. Besides those that blink intermittently, he’s also discovered some that blink at exactly the same time, as if they were synchronized. 

Though we’ve learned a lot about fireflies from Mr. Lewis, he taught us another lesson as well. He encouraged us to go out and watch the fireflies in our own yard and woods, to sit in the dark and just see what appeared. What amazing wonders of nature we could observe if we just took the time to slow down, sit down, and see what comes into view, both during the day – and at night.