We have in our backyard one firefly, so far as I can tell. He lazily wanders around among the foliage, illuminating his heinie periodically, unconcerned with his solitary existence. I try to visit him every night, at least for a few minutes. He doesn't understand my apprehension.
When I was a kid, back in the Sixties, I remember our evening yard being full of fireflies in Old Greenwich. Like most idiot children of the time, I captured them in a mayonnaise jar. We punctured holes in the lid with a flathead screwdriver so the bugs could 'breathe' for whatever time in captivity they had left. It was usually not very long, and we'd have a jar bottom carpeted in dead fireflies in a couple hours. (Some of my evil little friends used to take the insect and smear their luminescent hindquarters on their shirts, and as cool as they thought they were, that kind of wholesale bug torture never appealed to me.)
I also remember sitting on the mayor's porch in Oxford, Mississippi with the various members of the Continental Drifters, watching a firefly convention at some point in the 1990's. No capture, no bug persecution, just sincere admiration on our part; fireflies figured prominently on the cover of our debut album, you will recall.
And now, I have just one single firefly to admire. My overactive sense of guilt makes me wonder how much I contributed to their population shrinkage. Of course, that'd have to be extended to me and every other kid in America who took advantage of their slow-moving flight.
Where did they all go? What happened to them?
I miss that blanket of flashing lights from my childhood every time I see my little nightly visitor. I hope he's not as lonely as he makes me feel.