Friday, October 31, 2014

Halloween is for the delight of young children all dressed up like princes and princesses finally with the freedom to let go of mom and dad’s hand and go up to a stranger’s door and be met with praise and wonderful candy. Halloween is also for the delight of every sick bastard who really loves gore and blood and secretly would love to dissect another human being but also to get away with it so for one night a year they get to terrorize and fill just about anyone they meet with fear and horror.
Then there are the people like me lately who get for one night to think of the supernatural and the after life. All Soul’s Day is celebrated in the Catholic religion. I think of the possibility of immorality that our personality somehow lives on and takes over a new able body while our old body continues to get older and rot away. Yes that is a creepy thought but it is more spiritual than horrible. So, by not knowing much at all about a after life, I choose to dwell on the marvels of this life here and now. It is all I really know about and yet each day I learn something new and that makes a good fun day for me.

My first encounter with something different at night was finding fireflies and being able to grasp them in my hand and watch my hand glow as I quickly tried to “save” them and put them in a jar. I must have killed the entire population of fireflies by “trying to save them”. By morning, they were all dead in my jar. I never wanted to kill the little flying flashlights. I wanted to be part of their little lives. They were and still is the supernatural to me and I am part of their existence with them in my lifetime. There is one Tennessee variety of firefly that attracts many people to sit in the dark in the forest to see the amazing and sometimes spooky light show provided for real by the wonders of our earth.

Ok maybe I am getting soft in my old age but deal with it. Every summer people pour into the forest just to see the little buggers. It has become a tourist attraction. They camp into the Great Smokey Mountains of Tennessee at Elkmont. It is an unstoppable migrating madness of people like the walking dead only these are very much alive people wanting to spend a night awake in the spooky dark woods at night. There are so many people migrating there that the National Park Service has to monitor them so this form of wild life doesn’t get too wild. Humans.

It all seems odd just sitting in a forest at night until the twinkling begins. In the pitch black, it is as if the stars had come to settle in the forest. Then there is a silent symphony of fireflies by the thousands. It is a sight you can not even capture on film. The contrast between the darkness and the brightness makes the place seem like it is breathing. The species there gathers in swarms and they all flash at once in tandem with each other. They are called Gatlinburg Synchronized Fireflies. They will all start at the same time and then flash randomly. Then they will all go off at the same time and all start over again. Who is the spooky bug orchestra leader?

No where in the western hemisphere is there a larger population of Synchronized Firefly. No one knows why they settle there. This is real. This is not some made up crappy story for Halloween. The firefly’s scientific name is Photinus Carolinus one of 19 known species. The firefly or lightning bug as we call them isn’t a fly or a bug.  It is actually a beetle. There is almost no heat produced in the back portion of the body. It is 100% light. They are way more efficient than a light bulb.

The flashing light is all about getting a mate. These guys put the romance in  the  Twilight movies to shame. The males are flashing their light to the females. The females respond with a glow of their own.  It is typical male behavior. My light is brighter than your light and the females do their best job to keep the glow alive. It is like a singles party. Males and females find each other in the dark. Besides, we all go to a haunted house so that a female will jump into our arms from fright. Our mating call.  Enjoy your Halloween and for one night thrust yourself out of your usual comfort zone. The fire fly only live a matter of weeks. Don’t miss your chance to enjoy nature’s nightlife before the glow is gone for another year. Halloween comes only once a year too. The fire fly is not a man made spectacle, it is one of life’s mysteries that you just can’t explain better than seeing it. There are more than 2,000 species of fire fly. Not all of them glow. Find your glow tonight. Happy Halloween!  


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