I spent last week in Congaree National Park. It’s a lovely park just outside of Columbia, SC, and has many kilometers of wonderful trails. Most of them were far too long for me to walk, but the shorter ones provided fantastic birding and general enjoyment for me. I’ve been feeling rather contemplative, and the long stretches of quiet were pleasant and helpful. Morning coffee there was especially lovely.
Every year for a couple of weeks, there is a species of synchronous firefly (Photuris frontalis) that mates there, and I was terribly disappointed that The Making Lemonade Road Tour calendar would probably prohibit me from viewing what promised to be an incredible display. I was actually contemplating adjusting my travels just to accommodate the mating display, but the exact dates are unpredictable, and I’d almost settled on missing it and perhaps returning to see it next year.
Fortunately, the winds of the universe blew in my favor, and they’ve started quite early this year.
I watched these beautiful creatures synch up and flash together, then get out of synch, then synch in waves, then all together again over and over, over the course of several hours, on several consecutive nights. It’s wonderful.
Back in the day, way back when I first got a Facebook account, there was a video that made the rounds from time to time of someone’s Christmas lights synchronized to the music of Wizards in Winter, by Trans-Siberian Orchestra. The video fascinated me. I watched it every time it came across my feed, and shared it on many occasions. Of course these days you can go to the local home improvement store or wherever and buy a ready-made kit to do it all in a snap, but back then this was unique and new and had to be put together by a sound engineer or something. This was way better than that.
I tried my best to get either stills or video of the phenomenon last week, using my best f/1.2 50mm lens, but it just wasn’t happening. After about 15 minutes, I let it go and just watched. I just watched and just watched, for hours and hours. One of the most important things I’ve learned over the last two years, a gift I’ll never be able to repay, was how to put down my camera and just enjoy the magic that is life.
If you have the opportunity, I highly recommend spending a few nights in the park just to see this. And leave your camera at home.
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