It is June and the mountains are in full summer glory! Honeysuckle blooms along vines that climb along roadsides growing effortlessly on trees and banks. The scent of the honeysuckle is a sweet one, an odor that is unique. One whiff of this one plant riding slowly along the twisting curves on the dirt road makes me want to stop and taste it. Yes, taste!
If you’ve never tasted honeysuckle you are missing a treat that children in the south have long known! All it takes is to be where the honeysuckle is growing–but watch for summer critters that may be lurking beneath those vines. Then you pick one of those small yellowish trumpet like blooms, but pick the whole thing–don’t leave the green end attached to the vine. Because you see, once you pick that bloom you then grasp the base of the flower and gently pull the inside main “stigma” it is called from the inside toward you hand and voila! You will see a tiny drop of clear sweet liquid hanging on the stigma, put it to your tongue and enjoy! It is one of those childhood pleasures that never leaves you!
I remember standing by bunches of honeysuckle as a child growing up, picking flower after flower and always amazed at how great that drop of juice tasted! Summer time seemed full of tastes and smells that grew as wild as we were in those days. Blackberries, blueberries, honeysuckle and other goodness grew right beside you as you walk the trails or dirt roads that lay within these hills.
Summer nights were a source of a different wonder! Fireflies! This summer being home again in these mountains has provided a nightly light show that rivals any Christmas light display I have ever seen! As dusk begins to turn into darkness, the trees become a backdrop to thousands, literally thousands of tiny blinking lights twinkling in a random delight! I tried so hard to capture the magic to share with you all here–but it seems without my husband’s night vision goggle technology–it just isn’t possible.
The trees that line the ridges and hillsides seem to come alive with their darker outline forming the stage for these creatures to put on their show. As I stand in the yard and watch, once in a while one of the little fireflies will swoop past me, close by with only the little flicker of their tail showing their presence–there one second and gone the next. How many of you remember as a child catching fireflies in a glass jar on summer nights? We would all run around, my sister and my brother and I with our hands trying to catch these tiny little creatures and carry them carefully to our jar. Inside we put grass stems, though I really could not tell you why we thought the fireflies would eat them. The jar would have a lid that we had taken a screw driver and a hammer and punched holes in with my father. We ran, we laughed, we caught fireflies on those summer nights as children, taking them inside with us to watch them twinkle in the jar as we went to sleep at night. I remember feeling sorry for the firefly in the jar, but felt “my firefly” was happy to be with me, as my special nightlight.
I haven’t caught any fireflies this year and I know why–what would people say if they saw a grown woman running around catching fireflies in the yard at night. Imagine the talk of the neighbors at that one. Is my thinking about that part of the magic of the mountains? Or is it part of the magic of being back home again?
Tonight I will watch them again as I walk the dog and enjoy the cool mountain nights. I had forgotten just how magical that mountain sparkle can be! I might even get my jar ready–just in case…