08 August 2014

Things I Love: Honeysuckle & Lightning Bugs

I haven't written anything in this sub-series in quite awhile, and with summer waning it seemed prudent that I get to this duo quickly. I enjoy traveling. I don't think I've ever gone somewhere that I outright disliked. I've been to plenty of places I'd like to visit again sometime. But I know this much: I will only ever feel at home in a place where summer is marked by honeysuckle and lightning bugs.

"Honeysuckle-2" by Aftabbanoori - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

I'm not a plant person. Other people fawn over flowers and trees and I'm just like, "Yeah, boring." They may pretty up the landscape but I don't know the difference between any two botanical specimens and I don't care to know. Honeysuckle, though, is the exception.

The obvious reason, of course, is that the scent of honeysuckle is so sweet. I love to smell a single honeysuckle up close, and I also love to just be near a whole patch of it. In addition to the smell, of course, is the taste. I haven't actually tasted honeysuckle in ages but I can flash back in my mind to how exciting it was to extract and get just that tiny sample of nectar. And I think honeysuckle is pretty. It's not as ostentatious as a lot of other plant things that people fawn over, like roses and sunflowers, but maybe that's part of the appeal for me.

Then there are lightning bugs. Some folks call 'em fireflies, and I'll never understand why, given the choice between the two terms, anyone would leave "lightning bug" on the table. It has lightning in the name. That's baller.

Photo from Firefly.org.
Like tasting honeysuckle, part of my affinity for lightning bugs is directly connected to a childhood activity I've not engaged in for ages: collecting them in a Mason jar. I remember many a summer evening trying to fill a Mason jar, its top mutilated by a table knife to assure the little creatures wouldn't suffocate. I don't remember ever really doing this on my own, though maybe I did. I remember more vividly competing with neighborhood kids to see who could catch the most. A couple of the boys would squish them and that always upset me.

In addition to how cool it is that they glow in the dark, I always liked how it tickled when they would land and walk on my hand. Every other insect that's ever walked on me has squicked me right out, but lightning bugs have just the right balance and heft that it feels kinda nice. I would periodically elect not to capture one that landed on my hand, certain that it would give other lightning bugs the message that it was safe to come to me. I would wind up catching plenty more, so as far as I know those "all clear" messages were, in fact, relayed and anyone who says otherwise is a dirty rotten liar who doesn't speak lightning bugese.

There are other things I associate with summer, of course: Tropicana lotion, Kingsford charcoal, freshly cut grass, pink lemonade, drinking water from a garden hose. I dig all of those things. But honeysuckle and lightning bugs? Those things rule.