Sunday Best – July 7, 2019

On fireworks and fireflies.

When I finally moved into the city, the main criteria for choosing my apartment was that it had to have a view of the 4th of July fireworks. For many years, that show has been my main summer ritual. I’ve refused wonderful invitations and rearranged all sorts of other plans to be sure I was there for the fireworks. I even delayed my departure to walk the Camino de Santiago so that I could see this spectacle as my own personal send-off before the journey.

This year found me in the country instead of the city for the 4th – a happy development, but for the missing fireworks. To my delight, as the sun settled beyond the horizon, I heard the familiar thwunk, whoosh, pop! and ran outside – but surrounded by hills, I couldn’t see a single spark.

As I turned to go inside, from one of the tree clumps that was blocking my view, I spied a flash. A quiet one, no sound at all. Then another. And another. I was surrounded by fireflies, who have no sense of FOMO at all.

Did you know that fireflies are also among the most efficient light-producers in the world? The chemical reaction in a firefly has a near-100% energy conversion ratio, compared with just 10% for an old school incandescent bulb. And researchers are copying the reflective structures on the firefly to improve effectiveness of LED bulb designs. Celebration, science, poetry, nature, magic – they are all pretty close cousins sometimes.

Dear ones, as we search for the rare and showy fireworks high up in the sky, let’s be sure not to curse the things that are in our way. They might contain an even more amazing show.






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