Monday, September 21, 2009

Isn't nature the coolest? Aren't fireflies the coolest?

The other day when I wrote about the first writing assignment for my MAGIC! class, Jaime and Mickael requested that I post the completed paper here on my blog. I turned it in last week, but I figured I'd hold onto it for a little while. Afterall, I did post something just yesterday, and I wanted to fill some space between posts. Kind of like when a girl texts you, but you wait a little while because you don't want her to think you are too eager to text back... no? I don't do that either. Mostly because girls don't text me.

Anyway, I decided not to wait. But I hope that you will still consider reading and commenting on the blog post I wrote yesterday. You can find it by scrolling down a little, or if you are especially lazy, by pressing this button.

Final Pre-Paper Note: I think it is only honest of me to let you know that the part about a man with hooks for hands was added afterwards for your reading pleasure, because I didn't have the guts to include it in the actual paper. If you don't understand the context of a man with hooks for hands concerning this paper, press this button. That button will also be useful if you aren't sure what this assignment was about in the first place.
Also, I know this is a little different than most posts, but that is because I don't get graded on most blog posts. Have a heart.
This was originally typed in 12.5 size font.

Wonder and Fireflies in Story City


My concept of fireflies was formed almost exclusively by Disney. Growing up in Utah, where fireflies are either sparse or nonexistent (I’ve never really been able to tell which), I actually never saw a live firefly until I was 19-years old.

Thanks to the dazzling technology of video cassette I was exposed to some of the more predominant activities of fireflies, mostly consisting of floating silently around the forests of Never Never Land or terrorizing the garden of Mickey Mouse. Apparently fireflies were prevalently loafers and vandals. Judging from my keen childhood observations, two things were certain: fireflies were closely related to fairies, and by some force—most likely magic—managed to stay permanently aglow.

When I moved to Iowa I remember nearly every relation or friend at a loss concerning what I could expect, except for two recurring topics: corn and hogs. And while corn and hogs most definitely dominated a large portion of my time in the Midwest, fireflies commanded my attention for the few pre-harvest months when they swarmed the fields of rural Iowa.

Corn was certainly an imposing force, and a field could literally stretch beyond my eyesight. Once you reached the end of that field, another one began. Local farmers earnestly claimed that corn grows fast enough that some nights you can hear it grow. I did spend some time attempting to tune in to these claims, but apparently my ears aren’t yet trained to pick up the frequency of growing corn. Regardless, the endless corn fields of the Midwest probably deserve a longer description of their own.

Hogs were indisputably in control of my sense of smell. On windy days the air would be thick with the compounded stench blowing into our town; usually home to two or three thousand individuals who were able to share this character-building experience two or three times a week. Needless to say, my relationship with corn was quite a bit healthier than my relationship with hogs. Although I’m sure the hogs, who spent their entire lives within the confines of a man-made aluminum compound, might return the sentiment. It is lucky for humanity that some especially gifted hogs are able to escape this numbing existence and harness their often untapped potential for sheep herding.

But as impressive as the corn was, and as potent as the hogs were, fireflies had the advantage of having already grabbed my attention and curiosity by being featured in at least one version of Peter Pan, the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyland, and a short cartoon starring Mickey Mouse and Pluto.

The first night I finally spotted a real firefly, I quickly realized that at least one of my childhood assumptions was false: fireflies are not constantly lit—they blink. This didn’t disappoint me so much, although I had to face the realization that Walt Disney had ultimately betrayed me. My ability to get over this minor loss was helped along by the fact that there were thousands of them. In one night, thousands of fireflies had mysteriously managed to invade every corn field surrounding Story City, Iowa—corn fields which, we have established, often stretch beyond the horizon—like they had just been there all along, and maybe they had been. They would float over the top and in between the corn, over the road, blinking on and off in small, hovering circles. The image of countless tiny white lights hovering at eye level, at ground level, at waist level, is about as near to magic as I can probably hope to ever get, maybe even surpassing the thrill of being rescued by a man with hooks for hands, and contingent on me putting aside my hopes that Quidditch will one day be a reality. At least in that one aspect Peter Pan hadn’t totally led me astray.

I was completely and thoroughly impressed. There have been just a handful of times that I have felt so sincerely taken-aback by nature to label it “awe”, and that night was one of them.

Later at my apartment I wrote in my journal. First item of business: “Fireflies blink on and off—must put an end to Walt Disney’s campaign of misinformation.” Second item of business: “It is pretty strange how a flying bug that blinks on and off has the ability to make a person that much happier.” And I was honestly thrilled, which again, I found pretty interesting. The presence of thousands of bugs in my surrounding area, a situation that I generally take great pains to avoid, had a pretty profound and positive effect on my mood. I was thrilled every night for about two months, as the number of fireflies in the air slowly diminished bit by bit until they were finally gone.

Final Notes:
- This is the first time I've ever posted over four times in one month. I feel pretty good about that.
- Whenever I carry a gun, I nestle it between my breasts like the woman in this Facebook Mafia Wars ad.

6 comments:

jaime said...

I have to admit that I'm really jealous of you right now. I've never seen a firefly in my life and I've always wanted to. It's a dream of mine that I hope will someday come true. Thank you for exposing Walt Disney as the liar that he is with your real portayal of them! Now I won't have my expectations set too high thinking they constantly glow. I would hate to be disappointed and have my firefly dream ruined!

Ps- you are a good writer...you write about good stuff...and your a good boy :-)

Melissa said...

I had a similarly magical experience with fireflies on the evening I first arrived in Nebraska. And like a good missionary, I came home and wrote a syrupy song about it--complete with mind-numbing accompaniment on my acoustic guitar. Please don't judge me, Craig.

Jordan said...

I have never seen a firefly, but I would love to.

I loved loved loved that final note, by the way.

20 Something said...

Fireflies....what a thought, the last sentace of your post was priceless.

Rebekah said...

I text you.

Craig Barlow B. said...

I had a feeling you were going to say that Bekah.