My fireflies

by Jennifer on December 9, 2008

This afternoon started out like most school days. Usually after school, the kids spread out through the house to decompress and relax. Then later, as the afternoon slides toward evening, I collect the sprawl of them and try to shape the next hour into finished homework and dinner on the table.

But today, as afternoon began that gentle shift and the sun cast shadows against the dining room wall, I found Girl tucked into a chair at the big table, reading a book. She had a pillow behind her to cushion the hard back of the dining chair, and her knees were tucked under her chin. The house was still, the TV was off. We had each made a cocoon of comfort in three rooms. Me, in my office, the Boy in his room, and her, here.

It was peaceful, a river of quiet flowing right through our house.

When I found her, I was just about to say “Time to do your homework,” but I stopped myself.

Let her read awhile, I thought. Time enough for homework later. I was touched by all the trouble she had gone to to make herself comfortable, by the way she bent her head toward her book, by the fact that she was so into the story that she didn’t even look up as I passed.

A little while later, when I was about to start dinner, I opened the window blinds above the kitchen sink to find this (click to enlarge):

(For the record, I didn’t edit these photos at all. The colors you see were as vivid and spectacular as what you see here.)

I called to her to come look, and within a minute she decided to watch the sunset from the patio, and maybe she would read her book out there, and “Can we make a fire?”

I gave her a big yes, the kind that are the most fun when you’re a parent, when there’s no good reason to say no. I grabbed the camera and took pictures and lit a fire in the firepit and took more pictures until the sky turned a smoky gray. Jupiter and Venus peeked out from the loose handful of clouds around them. I abandoned every immediate plan to make dinner.

The Boy and I went back inside to find shoes and grab sweaters, but then he got distracted by something in his room, and I stopped at my computer to check something for just one second (I know, I know…). A second turned into a few minutes, and before long I heard Girl calling from the patio door.

“Hey, why isn’t everyone out here enjoying the fire?”

Good question, sweetie. Really good question.

Before long, they were chasing each other around the yard, with flashlights to see, and making shadows of each other on the back fence wall. They danced crazy dances just to see their silly shadows.

The funny thing is, they’re usually a little scared to go out in the yard at night.

But not this night. From nothing more than a couple of flashlights and their imaginations, they spent the next hour making their own fun and – without fear, without thinking a thing about it – lighting their own way.

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{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

Chris December 9, 2008 at 3:03 am

There is NOTHING like an Arizona sunset. Makes me miss Phoenix and Tucson. Gorgeous photos and post.

Chriss last blog post..My brother, my friend.

Gwen December 9, 2008 at 6:00 am

And you think you want snow? Girl, you crazy. That is some beauty right there.

Gwens last blog post..Feel Good Friday

Mrs. Chili December 9, 2008 at 6:19 am

I love being able to say “yes,”

Mrs. Chilis last blog post..Ten Things Tuesday

jenrantsraves December 9, 2008 at 7:06 am

WOW! The part about your girl enjoying her book made me think of a little girl I used to watch. She would get off the bus on library day with her new book, totally engrossed. She would barely look up the whole way home, and I saw her walk into trees a few times. I loved watching her.

Jenn @ Juggling Life December 9, 2008 at 8:22 am

The magic of those moments is what keeps us going.

Jenn @ Juggling Lifes last blog post..Reasons I Know I Made A Good Choice

melissa December 9, 2008 at 8:47 am

I bet they will always remember that evening.

melissas last blog post..Winter Wonderland & Miracles

Ree December 9, 2008 at 12:54 pm

Sounds like someone found a little peace in their over active brain. 😉

Yay for fireflies.

Rees last blog post..The Time I Almost…

Heather December 9, 2008 at 1:02 pm

beautiful words and gorgeous photos!

Heathers last blog post..Sometimes Chilling is Extra Hard

V-Grrrl December 9, 2008 at 4:43 pm

My Girl is a compulsive reader of books and creator of cozy spaces. Her favorite place to read is at the dining room table, and while it’s too cold for the chimenea now, we used it throughout the fall.

My quirk–I like to sit around a fire and Not Talk. My husband and kids are chatty and are very fond of doing skits and telling jokes and doing all the tradtional campfire stuff. Sometimes after they’ve gone into the house, I linger outside with the ember and the sounds of silence…

V-Grrrls last blog post..Cards from the studio

Sports Mama December 9, 2008 at 5:12 pm

Moments like these, questions like these from my kids, always make my mama-heart melt.

And I enjoyed that same sunset! 🙂

Louise December 9, 2008 at 5:37 pm

It reminds me a little of our childhood. You and Ducky and I could all get lost in a book–in a “cocoon of comfort.” (Mine would have been over the furnace vent.

The pictures are fabulous. And an unplanned evening of fun and contentment is the best.

Louises last blog post..The Climbing Tree — My World

david mcmahon December 9, 2008 at 6:41 pm

Brings back precious memories, Jennifer

phd in yogurtry December 9, 2008 at 8:50 pm

stunning!!! nature is the original artist!

phd in yogurtrys last blog post..twilight

Sandi McBride December 10, 2008 at 7:13 am

Well the photos are brilliant, but to have that time with your kids, it’s a never recapture moment but you managed it spectacularly! Congrats on Post of the Day mention from David…well done!

Sandi McBrides last blog post..GrayC, the Christmas Cat

Mrs. Schmitty December 10, 2008 at 7:15 am

Beautiful pictures!

Lee December 10, 2008 at 7:47 am

This is a wonderful story! it takes me back to my own childhood days and the fun you could have without out and about in your own neighborhood at night, with just a flashlight. Thanks for sharing this!

Congratulations on making David’s list.


Lees last blog post..The 7 Unusual Things About Me Tag

cce December 10, 2008 at 1:13 pm

It’s so nice for y’all to have had that pause, that down time. It’s so rare to actually stop and smell the roses. Looks like it was a show stopper sunset. Kudos to you for letting it all go for awhile. There will be homework tomorrow and the day after that.

cces last blog post..Scrooge

the mama bird diaries December 10, 2008 at 1:46 pm

How simply beautiful. The sky and the time with your children.

the mama bird diariess last blog to buy a christmas tree in manhattan

Franki December 10, 2008 at 5:03 pm

Gorgeous photos and even more gorgeous story.

Frankis last blog post..valkyrie

Denise December 10, 2008 at 7:03 pm

Hi friend!

All I can say is WOW WOW WOW!!


Denises last blog post..Guaranteed

anymommy December 10, 2008 at 7:08 pm

That made me feel better, and I wasn’t even there. I love saying yes without having to think about it.

anymommys last blog post..We’re Having A(nother) Baby

Ann December 10, 2008 at 7:52 pm

Seriously, this is one of the biggest bonuses of living here in AZ — the glorious sunsets. Truly beautiful.

Anns last blog post..Abducted By Aliens, I Was!

Lisa Milton December 10, 2008 at 7:52 pm

That sky was so perfect. Wow.

Lisa Miltons last blog love

flutter December 11, 2008 at 12:12 am

The skies here are insanity.

flutters last blog post..We’re all crazy

Hilary December 11, 2008 at 6:41 am

What a beautiful post. The fire in the pit, the fire in the sky, the fire in your and your kidlet’s hearts. Just one of those perfect days. Those “yes” moments are among the best.

Hilarys last blog post..Old Friends

Coco December 11, 2008 at 2:30 pm

I love your writing. Did I ever say it, just like that? I do.

So evocative. I can smell the fire, I can see the flashlights. I am there, in the chair beside you, smiling as we look at the sky on fire.

Cocos last blog post..The Kiss – A Short Story – Part 1

Grandy December 11, 2008 at 11:09 pm

What a great spontaneous evening! Beautiful pics too. The sunsets have been amazing lately and you captured them well. 🙂

Grandys last blog post..Superhero Symbol Needed

JCK December 11, 2008 at 11:33 pm

We had a sky a little like that tonight. It stopped me in my tracks.

What a lovely image to imagine you letting your girl continue to read. Oh, you wise woman…

JCKs last blog post..That her son is freebasing…the Christmas season.

Claudia December 12, 2008 at 1:08 am

OMG ~~ it looks just like the sky we had here in Redding, CA on the evening of Dec. 7th. I ran around like a chicken with it’s head cut off, trying to locate my camera. Then I realized I was totally missing the incredible view…and just went out and enjoyed it. Unfortunately, I did not get any gorgeous photos like yours and I also never did find my camera (which I use almost daily). Today however, I went out and bought a new one, Merry Christmas to me.

Claudias last blog post..

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