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Getting back to work could be like watching fireflies

August 9, 2009
By SANDY MICKELSON. Messenger staff writer

Oh, man, this is hard.

Working after two months of not working takes the oomph right out of you. Well, right out of me. And it also, though I hate to admit it, rolls my brain around stupid until I never know what kind of words I'll use.

I could have forgotten, even, to tell you that Janet Dencklau delivered lemonade to me at our Emil and Julia Dencklau reunion at Joann Hammitt's house east of Lehigh a while back. Since The Messenger no longer prints family reunion information, maybe I shouldn't have brought it up, but doggone it, when the highlight of your summer is a perfectly pulled-together picnic potluck, you've got to talk about it.

There couldn't have been a better selection of food, but the best may have been the lemon Jell-O salad Janet made. I love lemon. Lemon anything. And no, that does NOT mean I have a sour disposition.

If I did have a sour disposition, mind you, it would dissipate on any muggy summer evening when the fireflies are out and you can smell the sweet silkiness of the corn. We're close enough, still, to July for the fireflies to be out in force, and I do so love watching them blink. It was just gravy on that feeling when I received an e-mail from the National Wildlife Federation about what they call "the iconic summertime insect."

Federation naturalist David Mizejewski is looking for people to go online at to record their observations of watching fireflies. That's a job I'd love to have. Then, instead of being a slug for doing nothing but watching fireflies, I'd be considered a help in research about the beetle known as a firefly.

The firefly actually is a beetle, but calling it a firebeetle certainly would take the romance out of the sound. Firefly. Firebeetle. No comparison.

You can't even call the firefly a lightning bug, Mizejewski said, "since true bugs are their own order of insects, distinct from beetles."

All I know for sure is the neon green glow of a firefly on a warm summer night makes me happy. It makes me feel like a kid again and makes me long for something I can't quite define.

By the way, Mizejewski says that fireflies create their neon fire by mixing oxygen with chemicals called luciferin and luciferase in their abdomen, which creates light without heat. A candle flame with the same brightness is 80,000 times hotter than the glow of a firefly.

And each firefly species has a unique flashing pattern, used to attract mates. Males flash in the air, and females flash from the ground or vegetation. That would keep untoward romances from happening, I guess. But, when the attraction does happen, firefly larvae often are called glow worms.

Glow little glow worm, glimmer, glimmer. Hmmm, that would make a good song.

Well, folks, I'm glad to be back. Thanks for waiting. And thanks for all your prayers and concerns.

So long friends, until the next time when we're together.

Contact Sandy Mickelson at (515) 573-2141 or



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