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Kansas City MO 64131





Cindy Maddera

The fireflies in the Mark Twain National Forest light up differently than those from our own backyard. We noticed this on our first evening in the forest. Our campground was located almost in the middle of one of the forest quadrants. After we had set up camp and eaten dinner, we took a stroll down to the lake/pond. Michael was hunting a good spot for us to lay down a blanket later for star gazing. I was trying to catch a glimpse of the bull frogs that I could hear at the edge of the pond. It was right at that perfect time of evening where the sun had just dropped down, but not far enough to make everything dark. We walked to a field on the other side of the pond, picked a spot for star gazing the next evening and then turned to head back. 

As we headed back towards the campground, we noticed the fireflies. They had just started lifting up from the forest floor to start their evening of hunting. Right away, I saw something different about these guys. Their flash of light was short, a blink really. It did not linger and slowely dissipate like the fireflies in our own backyard. These forest fireflies blinked like little camera flashes and they seemed to do so almost in unison with each other. We marveled at the diversity and the differences between 'city' fireflies and 'country' fireflies. The next night, we laid on a blanket in the field on the other side of the pond and looked at the stars. Occasionally we would think that we had spotted a satellite only to realize that we had spotted a firefly.  We did see a real satellite or two and Michael finally got a glimpse of the Milky Way, but it's the fireflies that impressed me the most. Always the biologist. 

I am thankful for our time away, traveling this country and for the things we saw. I am so grateful that part of that time included Chad, Jess and The Kid. At one point, Chad and I looked at each other and just started laughing for no reason in particular. The Kid looked at the two of us, shook his head and said "you guys are ridiculous." Which made us laugh harder. I am thankful for that woman with the truck who hauled all of us and our bikes back up the longest steepest hill, even if Chad had to pay her $20. I am just thankful that she was there and agreed to Chad's offer. Between that woman and twenty bucks, no one died that died. Mostly Chad. Chad wasn't murdered that day. I am thankful for ridiculous moments and easy bike rides. I am thankful for that moment when we came across a doe and her fawn. I am thankful for all the car tags we collected. We got fifty different car tags, some of those were Canadian. We were missing four American State tags by the time we made it home. 

I am thankful for fireflies.

I am thankful for you.