Wednesday, June 13, 2012
It's such a simple thing. Yet, at the same time, it's quite spectacular. At least it is for me. It happens at virtually the same time every year (given a margin of error for weather conditions); the fireflies return to my backyard and put on a dazzling display of nature's "pyrotechnics". In late Spring, just before the summer swelter invades the land, I see them. First, it's just a few advanced scouts: flash, flash, flash. Then, a few days after, if the weather is warm enough, you see them by the thousands: flash, flash, flash, flash, flash, saying, Here I am. Here I am. Here I am. It's like a fireworks display without the noise. My understanding is that each insect has a particular pattern of flashing that identifies him specifically. And his flash pattern either does, or doesn't, attract females. I can see them clearly from the window of my office where I am typing this entry, They are all up and down the huge pine trees that line the base of the Palisades that make up Hi-Tor Mountain State Park and my backyard. Just as surely as I look for the return of the swallows to the River as a harbinger for the return of spring, I look to the fireflies in anticipation of the summer's return. It will be just of the things I will miss about living in a very special place.
There is no doubt that I've been very fortunate to live here for the last 6 years. It is indeed special. If it is not for the graceful 1930's Center Hall Colonial house, then it must be for the spectacular property on which it lies. Nestled at the base of the magnificent Palisades, it sits high above the Hudson River, providing views that would make a Hudson River School painter beg for access to it. But it's not completely idyllic! We deal with Rte. 9W two blocks away and the trusty CSX freight trains that scream by at all hours of the day and night. And those distractions can only be matched by the inhabitants of the local mental institution (for lack of a better word at the moment) located on the corner, shouting expletives early on a Sunday morning. But I have also watched the hawks circle the cliffs, high overhead, and heard their screech. I have seen a vixen and her kits frolic in my neighbor's yard. There have been buzzards and wild turkeys that have come to visit. I have seen the mist shroud the mighty Palisades in a foggy, surreal haze. I have witnessed many, breathtaking sunrises over my beloved Hudson. I have seen it set in red and purple glory beyond the cliffs. And we shared that magnificence with many loving friends who have graced us with their company these last few years. All of these things became the sound track of our lives. And I will miss them.
The woman whom we purchased the house from was a "fanatical" gardener and she left us with her legacy. In the Spring, the lilacs she planted would bloom to fill the air, outside AND in, with their delightful aroma. After the lilacs came the peonies. After the peonies came the roses - all providing a distinct and pleasant fragrance to enrich our lives. In the Summer my garden would bloom (when those bastards, the rabbits and groundhogs, didn't eat the whole damned thing) to provide us with a fresh bounty of tomatoes, basil, and more for our table. I loved working in the garden. I swear that all I needed was a DiNobile cigar sticking out of my mouth to look like the old Italian patriarch that I was surely becoming!
In the winter, the snow would cover the huge pine trees and the sheer cliff that line our back yard in a blanket of pure white. It would be fair to say that it looked like a Courier and Ives postcard. Of course, trying to negotiate our steep and long driveway was NEVER a pleasure in the deep snow! And shoveling was a bitch! But that was a small price to pay to for the rest of the overall beauty of the place. In our living room we have a large fireplace where we had countless fires, on too many Sundays to count. . We cut and split most of our own wood to keep the fires burning. And I made more pasta then Barilla! Food, friends, fire, and football was our mantra. We laughed a lot and cried some too. Life was full here. And I will miss it.
But as our marriage decayed and descended in madness and heartbreak, and I knew that I would have to leave this wonderful place, it became more and more apparent to me that these things are really just ephemeral. They live in the moment. They only act as triggers for what truly lies within your heart. They are just a few of the many things that can fill you with emotion. And the most important of these is love. Without love these wonderful things are just, well, things. They have no more meaning than staring at a cardboard box! It's the connection with the love inside you that makes them special. Without love they are just visuals. It's the ability to see that love and LIVE with that love, not only with others, but within YOURSELF that gives them special meaning. And NO ONE will ever be able to take that from me.
I suppose that I enjoy the fireflies so much because they are very much a symbol for my life here. Like them, I have had my time to burn brightly - but only for awhile. Then I, like them, must move on - at least until the next time when we get to shine our light once again. Flash-Flash-Flash!
So, it's with ambivalence that I leave my home for new adventures and new challenges. I hate leaving the things that I just wrote about but I'm exciting to begin anew - to have a fresh start and make new memories, in a different, and, I hope, equally special place. But, remember, my friends, the most special place lies within!