It's been hot. On the summer solstice, the temperatures were to climb into the upper 90s and linger there for several days. I was going to need lots of liquid, and I knew it. I generally buy bottled spring water. The kind from real springs, the kind that tastes clean, if clean can be said to have a taste. I buy it in round clear plastic bottles that don't leach the taste of plastic into the water. My tap water is good, but not New York City tap water good. Even so, the water here is the best of any place I've lived in Brattleboro. Except. Except it has an overpoweringly strong smell of what my aging brain starts to say is chlorophyll, then chloroform, and which eventually settles down into chlorine. The heat was going to take more liquid than I wanted to purchase or carry. Something would have to be done.
The answer came from my response to my having filed for early retirement. I filed on June the 6th, D-Day, the first day I was legally able to do so. I found that early retirement isn't when I turn 62 in early September, but when one is 62. My first month of retirement, the computer assured me, would be October. Two weeks later the paperwork in the mail told me that I could expect my check for the month of October to be deposited in my account on approximately November the 15th. My first thought, after the horror of having to work a little longer flashed through my consciousness, was to request someone pass the grape kool-aid. I decided to take the suggestion. Kool-aid is cheap. Except you have to pour in a cup of sugar for every two quarts.
I never realized how much Kool-aid tastes like liquid jello. I've been on a jello with sliced bananas and grapes kick for the last few months. It's a cheap enough snack. After that first shock of recognition, two words floated by as if carried on a slight summer breeze of memory. Bug Juice. There is a picnic table not far from the back door, isn't it under the boughs of a mulberry tree? There is a plastic table cloth of red checkerboard. There are paper plates and cups and napkins and I am four or five in the backyard of the house on Allen Street. It is too hot to eat inside. And it is the kind of humid in which even light cotton feels wet as it clings to the body. There is a slight summer breeze in the twilight. Floating along it are fireflies.
There is a long sigh in the present. I miss the fireflies. There seem to be fewer every year. I haven't seen any for the last two years. I searched the internet on the subject. Lots of people have noticed. Loss of habitat. Pesticides. Changing weather patterns.
I am four or five, and chasing fireflies in the backyard. A glass jar is in my hands. Its lid has many holes poked into it. I use it to try to capture the magic twinkling light because it is special, and I will be special if I can keep it with me, twinkling beside my bed as I drift away on the slight summer breeze.
I am 61 now and the world, and I, have changed.
I miss the fireflies.