Light in the Night

The seasonal weather around here might waffle — with freaky snowstorms, simmering-hot spring days or cold summer nights — but the bugs are always on time. Punctual to the day.

Most nights — once the kids are tied to their beds –Martin and I walk the dog up the darkened driveway. This past week we’ve taken in the glittery flashes over the hay field. Thousands of lightning bugs courting one another. 
I checked to see when I last wrote about this. Last year, June 2nd. The fireflies are right on cue. 
But a few nights ago, while peering into the dark in search of blinking bugs, I spotted one in the grass, right where the hay field ends and the lawn begins. A blue tinge among blades of grass.

Fireflies flash in blue? I mulled this over in my head. Not possible.
I looked at the spot again, flashing red. I blinked and it appeared in blue. Then green again.
What the hell kind of firefly is that?” I shouted at Martin, feeling a little panicked and freaked out.
“I saw that the other night,” he said. “It’s a flashing ball. I can’t believe it’s still there.”
A rubber bouncy-ball.
I parted the grass to expose the clear orb — no larger than a strawberry — flashing red, blue and green. Then switching to strobe-light mode like a zany Christmas tree, before cycling back to a steady tri-color sequence. 
Martin recognized the ball — a free trinket from a trade show — that had been passed to the kids. They’d either lost it or bounced it from the gator as we zipped up the drive.
I tried to unearth the ball but it was firmly planted in the earth — obviously run-over and countersunk by a tractor. I tried to scrape away the dirt but I needed a spade or a shovel to free it. Wedged in, it dutifully flashed away.
In my anthropocentric way I imagined the ants, caterpillars and grasshoppers, marveling over this strange space-age, flashing sphere. I imagined a few cautious bugs hiding among the thick grass while others basked in the light: “Hey Harold, I told you that Close Encounters was more than just a movie! There’s advanced life out there!”

An insect-sized UFO might not sound blog-worthy. What’s notable is that the darn ball is still flashing. Night after night, I prepare for its absence. It’s a cheap rubber ball. A trinket that came with a pen and a lanyard. It should have fizzled out.

But just when I think I’ve walked far enough, gravel crunching beneath my shoes, there it is. A single, colorful beacon among the glimmer of fireflies.

Amidst acre on acre of green blanketed in black.