"Caught by Beauty"
by Armida Alexander
It was nearly 70 years ago when I first remember beauty catching me and carrying me away. My family lived on a farm between Rockton and Shirland, Illinois. I had ridden my bike to a friend’s house for supper, followed by shared reading, which was a practice in her family. Now, it was time to go home—several miles on country roads—and it’s getting dark.
Oh, thank goodness my parents and hers were not overly protective or worriers. I start out on my bike alone down the long gravel lane that leads to the paved road. Mist is settling in the fields, and out of that mist rise…first a few, then millions of fireflies, sparks of light, that glimmer on the ground, ascend slowly, and glide on currents of air in a luminous ballet.
Okay, they have my full attention. I stop to stare at this spectacle. Remember, this was long ago, before the widespread use of pesticides, a time when bees and fireflies and butterflies were allowed to live. There I stand in slack-jawed amazement—twinkling lights from the ground to the tree-tops. And then the stars begin to appear, first a few, then millions, and the dancers join hands—light above, light below. Blessed be.
At some point, when the mist settles on me and I begin to shiver, I ride home, lights to my right and left, crickets singing all the way. Hallelujah, my joy is complete.