Thursday, July 21, 2016

These Old Walkin' Shoes: Firefly, Can You See Me?

A couple weeks ago my kids did something that a lot of people seem to be doing a lot of lately. Yes, we’ve been hunting for things in the backyards around the house. Actually, we were at a friend’s house, although we could do it at our house. They were out hunting for lightning bugs.

The first question I have is, are they lightning bugs or are they fireflies? They are entirely interchangeable, but depending on where you live they can be called by one name or the other. Apparently, some dude at North Carolina State studied the linguistic history of the two words. He found that in Western New York, either word is used equally. (Yeah, sometimes inane trivia is part of this gig.)

Stepping away from all the technical mumbo-jumbo, we move back into our normal “Walkin’ Shoes” stories. See, when I walk, I try to get away from all the distractions so I can have a moment to think. Sometimes with four girls, a moment to think can be hard to come by. I don’t have time to chase virtual beings. I chase ideas.

My kids taught me something while they were at our friend’s house. Despite all the technological advances that we have these days, it was refreshing to see the girls run around the yard trying to capture those glowing little bugs. The excitement when they came back with one or two in the jar was worth the price of admission. Of course, we don’t keep them in the jars. We release them back into the night air before we end the game.

Something else the kids do that is a throwback to my youth is to play Hide-and-Seek. They play it a little differently than I did when I was their age. They hide during the countdown and then run back “Home” when the seeker takes off in the opposite direction. What we end up with is a yard full of running and giggling kids. It is a glorious sound.

When I was a kid, we’d play Hide-and-Seek or Ghost in the Graveyard. We’d stay hiding until we were discovered, and then we’d try to outrun the seeker back to “Home.” It was a little more daring than the way the Bacon Bits play today, but it’s all in good fun.

I can remember one time that we were playing after dark. I must have been 12 or 13. I sat on a tree branch for half an hour or more while the seeker, and eventually the others he caught, walked back and forth below me. They could not find me. I wasn’t giving up my hiding spot. As a group, they walked by the tree. I slid down the trunk as quietly as possible and snuck up behind them. I scared them. A lot.

Lately, the twins have been venturing a little bit farther from home. They take walks or ride their bikes around the block. Sometimes they go over to a friend’s house, and we won’t see them for hours. It reminds me of my youth when we, the neighborhood gang, spent our days out and about. Wendy whistles for the girls to come home, much like Matt’s Dad did the same when it was time for dinner. Echoes of the 1980s giggle between the houses and down the streets.

So, instead of chasing computer-generated little imps, we spend our time chasing dreams, butterflies, lightning bugs, and laughs. It’s fun to watch them -- and to hear them. It is almost endless flashbacks to my own childhood when I watch the four girls play and interact with friends in my old neighborhood. Instead of Pokemon GO, at our house, it’s Ready -- Set -- GO!!

Craig Bacon has been sending secret messages. Can you figure it out?