far too much writing, far too many photos

July 1st. As of today I’ve been back here seven days (here being northern Vermont). Some statistics from that week:

days of sunlight: six and a half

days over 90 : three

bug bites: ten or twelve and counting, half of them big red buggers

zits: four, mostly big ones (#*%^!!!!)

cups of espresso made/hoovered down: three (all today)

hours spent online: not many

mice caught in the household Havahart trap: two

days it took to read Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenex: five

days after my return it took my computer to crap out: two

the result/cure: reinstallation of Windows XP

episodes of Buffy The Vampire Slayer watched: nine

hour of sunset (northern Vermont): 8:37 p.m.

hour of sunset (Madrid, Spain): 9:49 p.m. (*Sob!*)

Since my return last Tuesday, lightning bugs have put on a show every evening. Quietly, gradually starting up with the fading of the day’s light until full darkness falls, when they’re are out in force. The long, rolling incline that extends down the northern slope in front of the house is the concentration point, perhaps because of the acres of uninterrupted meadow. All that cover to hide in during the hours of daylight. Come twilight, they rise from the long grass, blinking soundlessly. Cruising for glow-worms. In the shorter grass around the house, crickets make music. Above the long grass, fireflies call silently for a mate.

One of my earliest, clearest memories is of June evenings, fireflies blinking away in waning daylight, kids in the neighborhoods pursuing them, trying to capture one or two, hold them in a bottle overnight. Nowhere near as magical in captivity. Kind of sad, in fact. But still — they make light without heat or batteries. Like foxfire, another early memory.

Three nights ago, as darkness fell: lightning bugs put on their quiet extravaganza above the hillside to the north side of the house. At the same time, up the valley to the north, lightning pulsed now and then above the hills. Silently for a while, like the fireflies. Kind of cool, that — one light show small and close by, the other grand, distant. But moving closer. The lightning display carried on for three hours, slowly moving in this direction, thunder gradually becoming audible, then loud. Rain started up around 11:45, fell heavily for three or four hours, then stopped. By the time the eastern horizon grew light, the clouds had taken off, the sun rose in a clear blue sky. Talk about nicely planned.

Earlier on Saturday, I’d driven into Montpelier, my bicycle stuffed into the back of the car. Parked in town, got the bike out, tooled around for a while, finally heading out the local bike path and riding its length, north out of town. On the way back in, I passed a sizeable parking lot behind a commercial building, far enough out from the town center that all was quiet. A scant handful of cars remained parked. At one end of the lot, well away from any other cars, an eye-catchingly blue Dodge Neon occupied a space. In the space next to it, a 30ish man sat in a folding chair, facing the sun. Sunglasses, neatly combed hair, dark blue sport shirt (buttoned up), dark shorts, black socks (pulled up), sandals, sunglasses. Motionless, hands on the chair’s arms. Quiet, formal-looking. No music playing, no book or magazine in evidence. No other people in sight, the scene perfectly still except for a breeze rustling nearby trees.

Ah, the rustic life.

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