State College, PA - Centre County - Central Pennsylvania - Home of Penn State University

Letter from the Publisher: Chasing the Last of the Summer Lightning Bugs

by on July 24, 2019 11:28 AM

August is a funny month, part summer and part fall. While the temperature remains extremely hot throughout, by mid-month attention has already turned to school and football. 

As a boy, I enjoyed many carefree August days exploring the woods near our Johnstown home. Drinking from cold mountain streams, hiking foot-worn hunting paths, balancing on old railroad tracks, lifting stones to find crayfish, and climbing trees made for a full day of adventure. In the evening, I chased the last of the summer lightning bugs, while eavesdropping on the conversations of frogs and crickets. When darkness fell, while lying in the grass, I could trace the various constellations in the night sky. I would stay outside as long as my mom would allow. In a few weeks, summer would end, and school would begin.

There is something truly magical about the last weeks of summer. As a young boy, my attention span was equal to that of a chipmunk. I was interested in everything, for a very short time. I never thought about what I was doing or why. When school began in September, the weeks-old summertime memories were already gone. There were new things to learn and new things to do. Only now, some 40 years later, have these memories resurfaced. How special those summers must have been, to stay with me all this time. It’s not that those years or those times were better than they are today; it is simply that I was younger. Youth has a special meaning to everyone as they grow older, as everything looked bigger and better through childhood eyes. And this is how those memories remain, forever, in the heart of an adult.

Every year, my wife and I plant sunflowers in the back yard. We got a late start this year, planting in mid-July, which means they will still be in bloom late into the fall. The bees love sunflowers. As we sit on the back porch after work, we can watch and photograph the bees at work. We will sit there, talking and observing, until just after dusk or until the pesky biting bugs come out. During this time, we are often visited by a few neighborhood cats, groundhogs, squirrels, and sometimes deer. But the highlight of the night is still the lightning bugs. (Sorry, I just can’t call them fireflies.)

Even today, the sight of lightning bugs at dusk returns a childlike joy each summer. It always makes me smile. Maybe, one day, I will try chasing them again.


Bernard A. Oravec


[email protected]


Disclaimer: Copyright © 2019 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.