Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal

The "Flies" of Summer

Rebekah L. Cowell


In the dusk of another balmy summer day, a dragonfly swoops across the pond, lands upon a lily pad, and lets his wings rest. His periwinkle tail glistens in the half-light of the fading day, and he waits patiently for the mosquito that must be buzzing close by. Frogs chirp, short calls, long screeches, sustained bellows, the symphony of cacophony has begun, and the dragonfly gathers himself and whirls into the night. He leaves in the dusk, and I notice that now, fireflies have begun to appear as random dots of light through the night, and I'm suddenly longing to bury my face into the warmth of the grass, and be a part of this amazing beauty.

Glorious North Carolina spring gives birth to the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly and they flutter and flit through daffodils, tulips, lilies, and peonies, dancing for us, and making our throats tighten with spring fever. That inexplicable happiness that comes with the arrival of color, arresting color. Butterflies lead us into early summer, and the dragonfly emerges from his pupa, from a pond, a puddle, a slow stream -- he arrives as an adult only to live for a few months, and with the end of summer he is gone, new eggs are laid in the stems of pond plants, and the long process begins. Larva can take up to three years to mature into the dragonfly we know; adulthood is the shortest stage of a dragonflies life. Dragonflies arrive by June and shortly after on their winged tips come fireflies that have spent winter burrowed in the ground, or in the bark of trees. Fireflies emerge as adults when warmth spreads up into their secret places and compels them to come out and flit into our lives in the shadowy summer evenings, lighting phosphorescent tails in a un-replicated display of other-worldliness. On a perfect summer day, you can catch all three "flies" as the day progresses through warmth to heat, to hottest, to heat, to warmth – fireflies dance around in the night air, as all creatures take a breath, glad for the hot sun to be down, and for the cool moon to rise above the tree tops and bathe us in its silvery liquid light.

These "flies" of summer are more than just a fortunate occurrence. They symbolize the stages of life in their unique presence. The butterfly symbolizes rebirth, the metamorphosis – the transformation from worm to bejeweled winged creature. The dragonfly symbolizes dreams, change and enlightenment, they are essentially messengers of summer – and aren't summer's dreams enchanted? The firefly is a revered symbol of loved one's souls in Japan and they also symbolize spiritual illumination. From spring and into summer – through Nature we watch the transformation of butterflies, the enlightenment of dragonflies and the illumination of fireflies. Beautiful thoughts on the "flies" of summer.

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Rebekah Cowell is a graduate of UNC with a degree in Philosophy and studies in Piano Performance.  Ms. Cowell has had columns published in The Herald Sun, The Carrboro Citizen, The Chapel Hill News, and
The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature.

© Rebekah Cowell

Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal ISSN 1554-8449, Copyright © 2004-2012