Tag Archives: Childhood

Confessions of a Really Bad Sport

Are you a good sport?

I’m not. Never have been.

As a preschooler, I pitched horrendous hissy fits when I pinned the tail on the donkey’s nose.

Worse, I adopted questionable ways of winning. I recall playing jacks at age four with Meddy, a “big kid” of five. When Meddy dropped a jack or misbounced the ball, I loudly denounced her “misses.” My similar miscues, however, were “mistakes.” People who made mistakes deserved another chance. Several, in fact.

Meddy suggested a new game: Throw Rachael Off the Top of the Swing Set. She was good at that game. I wasn’t the best sport.

I graduated to towering rages while playing Monopoly — not my fault. My brother manufactured counterfeit five-hundred-dollar bills under his bunk bed. He spent every penny building vast empires around Park Place and Boardwalk. When his cash flow disappeared, I bought his lousy railroads and utilities with carefully hoarded cash. In turn, I believed he’d ignore my landing on his hotels.

Wrong. He nailed me. I, the prudent, generous developer, always lost.

Since his counterfeiting skills didn’t figure into playing Clue, I fared better. Still, I rejected the candlestick as a weapon. What respectable murderer knocked off people with candlesticks?

After ten losses in an afternoon, I smacked both my brother and my cousin with the playing board. Hey, it made more sense than using a candlestick.

I even extended my winning obsession to church. Boy vs. girl penny contests at Bible school inspired me. I emptied my piggy bank, dug under sofa cushions, and shook down neighbor kids so we angelic girls could beat those devilish boys to send money to missionaries. Somehow, I confused the bring-a-visitor-to-church competitions with TV cowboy westerns. We kids even sang songs urging us to “bring them in.” How was I to know “dead or alive” didn’t apply?

Eventually, I grew up. Fair play, teeth-gritting congratulations to those who bested me, and missionary giving sans mugging all became the norm.

Recently, I played Scrabble with our grown children. As I was an English major, this self-designed scenario should have resulted in another victory notch in my diploma.

But all the vowels had been called to jury duty. During game two, all consonants were outsourced overseas. I proposed new rules: If other players used an X, they lost five tiles. If I drew a Z, though, I received five bonus tiles.

My narrow-minded offspring nixed my innovations. Their proposal: If I drew a Q, all U’s found among my tiles were to be held in custody until 3012 or until peace prevails in the Middle East, whichever comes first.

Maybe we both just made mistakes?

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Are you a good sport?

Positive Principals

As a spanking-new first grader, I heard (on big-kid authority) the principal functioned as Lord High Executioner. Mrs. Taylor, a large, pigeon-shaped lady, laughed loud and deep, displaying a mouthful of white, predatory teeth.

Whenever she appeared, I glued my eyes to my Dick and Jane book. I never wanted to deliver Teacher’s attendance sheet to Mrs. Taylor’s office because I couldn’t bear the hopeless looks of the condemned waiting outside. Would they emerge alive?

I’d survived first grade, when I heard rumors of a new principal. A man. I feared my life expectancy would drop considerably, which my first encounter with Mr. O’Connor confirmed. Adults called him “short,” but he seemed big and powerful, a redheaded Irishman whose cat-green eyes shot sparks when we crossed him.

My children, on the other hand, brought home tales of friendship and fun with their principal. He read storybooks aloud, led students in “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” and told the lamest knock-knock jokes in western civilization. If you forgot your bus number, he materialized like Jesus to help you.

During our children’s school careers, we encountered several principals who went the extra mile. Lately, though, many go the extra galaxy. Mrs. Taylor and Mr. O’Connor, whom I eventually recognized as caring professionals, wanted students to achieve. Never, however, did they kiss a potbellied pig. Running a school these days poses enough challenges without eating fried worms (even with mustard and ketchup), as a Texas principal did to motivate her students.

Brave? Ye-e-es. Even more heroic (and less yucky): working behind the scenes to make a difference in kids’ lives.

Years ago, I encountered our principal in an alley doing exactly that. Unintentionally, I almost wiped him out. Still dressed in robe and nightgown, I was moving trash cans in pouring rain when subhuman screams rent the air. I grabbed my garden hoe, positive a child had been attacked. Thankfully, I recognized our principal before I dismembered him.

I ducked inside our garage and watched the drenched educator haul a screeching, kicking blur toward school a block away. Later, I asked him about the incident.

“Billy had locked himself in his mom’s car. I went and brought him to school.”

“Coat hanger?” I asked.

“Yeah, learned it in college. Great methods course.”

“Has Billy learned his lesson?”

“He tries stuff to see if I mean it.” A Mr. O’Connor look stole over his features. “I mean it.”

Did Billy thank him? Probably not. The principal had to use more Fear Factor than he liked. Hopefully, three decades later, Billy realizes the value of his Friend Factor, who literally walked the extra mile — in the rain — to help him succeed.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What special educator do you recall?

Our Normal Vacation

Summer trips with stops at Stuckey’s and Storybook Land. Sleeping in genuine teepees at the Woocheekoochee Warpath Motel — with a swimming pool!

A normal vacation for many kids during the 1960s.

But nobody ever accused my family of normalcy.

Any July morning, Dad might casually inform my mother he planned a family departure to visit his parents in Louisiana. At 8:00 p.m. that day.

Mom would have scorned comparison to that Wonder Woman hussy in bustier and tights, but she herself represented a true marvel. By 8:00 p.m. she had washed and packed clothes. She had canned every ripe tomato and pickle within 20 miles. Pets were exported and schedules rearranged with the decisiveness of a Fortune 500 CEO. Why Mom also cleaned our car remains a mystery. One root beer stand stop, and the station wagon again was infested with French fries, seats freshly graffitied with ketchup.

Her most amazing feat: Mom never hired a hit man to bump off Dad.

Arriving home, he flattened station wagon seats, loaded suitcases and cooler, then stacked us on top.

Dad loved all-night driving because he endured few dollar-eating, time-consuming restaurant stops. No tinkle breaks every two miles. Nothing to interrupt his love song of the open road — after children nodded off.

I often awakened with a sibling’s foot in my ear or an arm strangling me in a half nelson.

Sometimes, I awoke to discover Dad catching a few winks along an unknown highway. Waking siblings — especially the baby — was a capital crime. So, I watched in mingled hope and terror as headlights approached: hope because they lit the darkness; terror because the Hatchet Murderers of America were traveling tonight, too.

Mornings, we played tag under cedars at a Tennessee rest stop while Mom cooked bacon and eggs over a campfire. The smells alone made the all-night drive worth it.

After crossing the Mississippi River, we soon stopped outside Monroe, Louisiana. Mom extracted The Washcloth from its plastic bag to scrub us, making us smell as if we’d spent the night in a dumpster. Still, it ranked above spit and shine with The Kleenex, Mom’s substitute if she forgot The Washcloth.

Dad called Grandma from a phone booth. We all knew this dialogue by heart.

“Mama, we’re in Louisiana.”

“No, you’re not.” She’d fallen too many times for his fibs. “You ain’t left Indiana.”

“Mama! We’re just outside Monroe.”

Grandma Oglesbee, wearing the wary expression she usually did when my dad fibbed to tease her.

She didn’t buy it.

Finally, Dad admitted what Grandma had suspected all along: “The car broke down. We haven’t left home.”

“I knew it! Ya’ll think I’m soft in the head.”

His favorite part of “normal” vacation: 30 minutes later, when we pulled into Grandma’s driveway.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What vacation memory can’t you forget?

Backyard Campout

At school’s end in the 1960s, tents bloomed in backyards like roses. Kathy, Debbie, and I couldn’t wait.

Image by Lucio Alfonsi from Pixabay.

Safety didn’t concern our mothers. Still, yakkety phone calls ensued before we extracted unanimous permission.

We campers stocked up on penny gum and Pixie Stix® at Charlie’s general store. If rich, we bought enough candy bars to ensure membership in the more-cavity group on Crest® Toothpaste commercials.

Lacking sleeping bags, we dragged old blankets and pillows to my saggy tent.

“Don’t knock down the poles,” Kathy warned.

Image by LiveLaughLove from Pixabay.

We ate 17 pieces of bubble gum each and read Bazooka Joe fortunes aloud. Debbie had confiscated her older sister’s teen magazine. Which Beatle was the cutest? This cosmic question kept us arguing and giggling until darkness fell. 

According to reliable sources, Gary and Tim were camping that night in Gary’s backyard. Younger than us, Tim was beneath our notice. Kathy and Debbie considered Gary icky, but no other boys on our block were outside. The so-called lack of prime victims didn’t bother me. I’d never told my friends I liked Gary’s cute smile.

Image by Daniela Mackova from Pixabay.

We sneaked out, careful not to topple poles. Creeping through several other yards, we halted behind lilacs near Gary’s house. We made it!

But we’d forgotten to bring Crazy Foam. Or squirt guns.

“Pound on their tent,” Kathy urged.

Except … no tent.

Gary’s sister had revealed his campout tonight. How dare he mess up our plans?

I didn’t like his dumb smile anymore.

Then wild, still-soprano yells erupted.

Ambushed!

I rocketed through darkness. Where were my girlfriends? The boys — probably well-equipped with Crazy Foam — would attack our tent.

Something sliced my throat!

Mom’s clothesline.

Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay.

I stumbled into our tent. In mistaken self-defense, Debbie and Kathy clobbered me. We knocked down poles. Entangled in canvas, we awaited Crazy Foam explosions and buckets of water.

Nothing. No one.

Perhaps the boys feared we would report them to their parents.

Propping up the tent, we tried to regain our bravado. Kathy told about the Man with the Golden Hook. Though I’d heard the tale a million times, scary scratching on our tent kept me edgy all night.

Also, Debbie had eaten beans for supper.

We couldn’t open the window because the Man with the Golden Hook would get us.

My friends nodded off, but my neck hurt. If only I could slip through my house’s unlocked door … But then, I’d have to explain my injury and betray our raid.

Finally, I slept.

Kathy and Debbie left early. Mom, unaware of my wound, insisted I clean up our mess.

I considered swearing off backyard camping forever.

At least, until tomorrow night.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Did you conduct backyard campout raids?

Tomato Tales

Image by Renee Gaudet from Pixabay.

I appreciate dedicated farmers and truckers who continue to bring us produce during this challenging time.

Still, grocery-store tomatoes provide fresh gardening inspiration. They also inspired my tomato-loving dad. One February day long ago, he filled egg cartons with dirt. In our mother’s clean kitchen.

Image by Markus Spiske from Pixabay.

My siblings and I awaited her fiery, fly-swatter judgment.

Instead, Mom said, “I can almost taste the tomatoes now.”

Dad explained he was planting seeds that would grow into tomato seedlings, which we’d later plant in our garden. Unfortunately, only a few lived.

Though Dad doubted the scrawny survivors would produce, he planted them. One he named Methuselah, after the biblical character who lived 969 years, almost filled our family’s pantry by itself.

Methuselah grew as tall as I and spread out as if king of the tomato patch. Dad often counted more than 70 big, juicy tomatoes on Methuselah’s branches. We hauled bushel basketfuls from the garden until Mom locked us out. After canning for weeks in 90-degree weather, she considered the bumper crop a for-real attack of killer tomatoes.

Decades later, my husband and I relived that abundance when we bought a house with a garden full of tomato plants, heavy with fruit. We would enjoy fresh-tomato goodness — with almost zero work!

I thought.

Eventually, I understood why Mom ran screaming from the patch when new blossoms appeared. Way too many tomatoes! Lacking canning equipment or a freezer, we put dozens outside with a “free” sign.

Still, that tomato-y summer ruined us forever. The following spring, we could hardly wait to raise our own. Where to buy seedlings?

Hubby’s barber shop, the source of all small-town wisdom, supplied the answer. The local Future Farmers of America raised and sold seedlings every May.

Image by Aline Ponce from Pixabay.

Since then, we’ve grown tomatoes every year. Red sunshine not only tickles our taste buds during summer, but during winter in homemade spaghetti sauce, chili and stews.

This year, however, the Future Farmers cannot grow seedlings. When Covid-19 first struck, I feared a run on gardening supplies.

Hubby gave me a you’re-so-paranoid look. “It’s not even Easter.”

With a few more gentle (Ahem!) reminders, he tried to order seeds online. Garden websites sang a unanimous song: sold out.

Would a similar run gobble up all seedlings? Would we be condemned to store-bought tomatoes forever?

Having learned his lesson (Always listen to your paranoid wife.), Hubby tracked down and planted tomato seeds. The seedlings will mature too late to plant at the usual time. But we’ll repot and keep them indoors. We’ll share them with others, spoiling them forever for tomatoes that taste like red sunshine — one small way to sweeten this pandemic.

Methuselah would be proud.

Image by Couleur from Pixabay.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What’s your favorite fresh veggie?

Have You Hugged Your Tree Today?

Why do I love trees? Maybe because I was born where a tree flourishes on the town’s courthouse clock tower. No, I am not making that up. The town fathers of Greensburg, Indiana, keep the mulberry trimmed, but they can’t bring themselves to remove it.

I also come from a long line of tree huggers who celebrated them when “green” was only a color. Not that I loved my parents’ endless Tree Tours. We lived where poplars, maples and beeches zigzagged cornfields’ edges. So why take everlasting Sunday afternoon drives, incarcerated with siblings, just to look at trees? My parents oohed and aahed about spring dogwoods and redbuds as if at a fireworks display. Dad bought us icy cold bottles of Coca Cola — if we spilled a minimum of blood during back seat battles.

Photo by Kim Peterson.

A contractor, Dad avoided tree removal. Rather than chop down a dogwood, he constructed our house’s wooden deck around it. Friends chuckled, not realizing he was setting a major landscaping trend — a few decades early.

I didn’t realize I’d absorbed my parents’ tree fanaticism until we moved to the Oregon desert. Tawny hills surrounding our town looked indecent, bare except for scrubby little pines. Our Midwestern family wondered if we would die of tree starvation. My parents nurtured fast-growing pin oaks like newborns. But I left for college, so they couldn’t grow fast enough for me.

What a relief to return to Indiana University’s wooded campus that exploded into a thousand bouquets every spring! My husband and I later lived in married student housing on aptly named Redbud Hill (aka Roach Hill, but we tried to think positive).

Later, in our house’s backyard, a crabapple’s rosy blossom clouds celebrated our younger daughter’s birthday.

Every spring, I visited a gracious, aunt-like apple tree on our block who, dressed in her fragrant, flowery Sunday best, waved whenever she saw me.

One day, she vanished! I circled the area, hoping by some magic she would emerge among new house studs.

“You expected somebody to build his house around a tree?” Hubby tried to delete his thankfulness that I hadn’t known about Aunt Apple’s removal beforehand. He wouldn’t have relished dragging me away from bulldozers.

I can’t rescue every tree that takes a fall. But this tree hugger can’t help growing grouchy, because it takes even God decades to grow a tree.

Baby trees now flourishing outside my window are, as the biblical psalmist says, clapping their hands at my speech. Thank you, thank you.

Hey, I clap with them. Because the applause belongs to the God of green, without whom none of my forest friends would be possible.

He’s kind of a tree hugger, too.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What’s your favorite springtime tree?

How Do You Like Them Apples?

“A is for apple.”

Today, little Apple lovers might expect a Macintosh laptop on an alphabet book’s first page. In 1959, however, technology never entered my mind. Instead, I eyed the luscious red fruit on my teacher’s desk. I focused on bites, not bytes.

I savored the school lunch’s apple crisp — until Joey Bump told me the topping consisted of fried ants.

Smart guy. He doubled his apple crisp intake.

Ants notwithstanding, I come from a long line of apple lovers. Every autumn Dad bought bushels of fragrant fruit at a nearby orchard. He peeled an apple with a surgeon’s precision, dangling the single long red curl, then sliced it into white circles whose dark seeds God had arranged in a flower pattern. A boy during the Depression, Dad scoured the woods for fruit — for anything — to nourish his scrawny frame. Forever, he would regard apples as a cause for celebration.

Whenever we visited my Louisiana grandparents, Dad bought Grandma bags of apples, fruit too expensive to frequent their black-eyed peas/turnip greens/corn bread diet. My four siblings and I waited for Grandma to share.

The apples vanished within seconds, never to reappear — while we were there, anyway.

Dad often surprised Grandma, driving all night from Indiana to visit. Once, he brought four-year-old Kenny, whom Grandma hadn’t seen for a year. Kenny and Dad dozed in his truck until they smelled bacon’s tantalizing fragrance. Dad’s resolve wavered. Did he dare rile his mother and risk losing a free breakfast?

Dad debated only a moment. Handing Kenny a bag of apples, he pulled my brother’s cap over his eyes and sent him to Grandma’s door. Hunkering down in the truck, Dad watched apple drama unfold.

At Kenny’s knock, Grandma appeared. “Child, what are you doing here at this hour?” She showed no sign of recognizing Kenny. “Where’s your mama? Your daddy?” She cast a wrathful eye at the truck.

When Kenny offered her the apples for a quarter, Grandma suffered pangs of conscience. How could she take advantage of this baby-child?

But the bargain apples proved too much.

Grandma retrieved a quarter from her old money sock.

As she handed it to Kenny, he tilted his head back. “Hi, Grandma!”

Dad strode to the porch, wearing a huge grin.

Grandma laughed and cried. When her voice returned, she said her 35-year-old son needed a good licking. How could such a bad apple turn out to be the only preacher in the family?

Grandma hugged Kenny, then welcomed him and his prodigal daddy, stuffing them with eggs, bacon, biscuits and gravy.

But no apples. The bag already had found a new home — under her featherbed.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What’s your favorite apple dessert?

Commercials Then and Now

My husband and I view a television program for a grand total of 63 seconds before a carrot chorus line high-kicks across the screen. Then an older couple, whose idea of a good time has deteriorated to shivering in separate bathtubs, teeter on a cliff’s edge.

One ad (guess which one) strikes me as mildly funny. I chuckle.

“You’ve seen that a hundred times.” Hubby rolls his eyes.

“I have?” I prod my memory. Zero recall.

“You never pay attention to commercials.” He makes this sound downright un-American.

I resent the slam on my patriotism. Plus, he’s dead wrong. I remember lots of commercials — except they belong to a different era.

Decades ago, Captain Kangaroo lauded Wonder Bread, which built strong bodies 12 ways. Captain K. always celebrated my birthday with a big cake. He reminded me to say my prayers. So, when the Captain told me to ask Mom to buy Wonder Bread, I did. But Mom said it was expensive. Gasp! How could she flout the wisdom of Captain Kangaroo?

She gave in, however, to lovable hucksters who taught thousands of children — including my husband and me — to spell “Nestlé” before they could spell their own names. Danny, a ventriloquist dummy, sang, “N-E-S-T-L-E-S, Nestlé’s makes the very best—” and Farfel the dog chimed in, “Choc’-late!” with a loud snap of his jaws. Good stuff.

Even black-and-white TV couldn’t diminish the Ali Baba richness of Kenner’s Sparkle Paints. Not only would Sparkle Paints pictures glitterize and glamorize my room, they would magically protect me from arithmetic, besides bringing about world peace.

I received Kenner’s Sparkle Paints as a gift! But my attempts — plops, glops, and slops of paint — resembled nothing on TV. Since Russian Premier Nikita Krushchev still banged his shoe on podiums and yelled during other commercials, Sparkle Paints didn’t accomplish world peace, either.

Although now a child cynic, I still enjoyed commercial jingles, including Speedy the Alka-Seltzer® mascot’s “Plop, plop, fizz, fizz, oh, what a relief it is.” And I, along with a gazillion other schoolchildren, wished we were Oscar Mayer wieners.

Medical commercials, however, caused me concern. I didn’t know what Preparation H® treated, but it had to be life-threatening because when I asked Dad, he didn’t want to talk about it.

Some commercials embarrassed me. I wished Mr. Whipple and his friends, who squeezed Charmin toilet paper in public, would disappear.

Nowadays, though, with Victoria’s Secret models joining the TV carrot chorus line and Vagisil/Viagra enthusiasts telling me much, much more than I want to know, I tend to veg, remembering only commercials of yesteryear.

Never thought I’d say this, but Mr. Whipple, I really miss you.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What’s your favorite commercial? Your un-favorite?

The Simple Life?

Life today has become so complicated that we need computers to help us understand our computers. Appliances, cars and GPSes bully us 24/7. Cell phones accompany us everywhere, like chaperones — or personal jailers.

We dream of escaping to The Simple Life.

Decades ago, I lived the dream in Mexico, where my missionary parents ministered in a small village. They never punched a clock or answered a phone.

The townspeople loaned us a four-star hut with a thatched roof. Constructed of random boards, cardboard and dried mud, the walls somehow remained standing.

A restroom visit was simple. There wasn’t one outhouse in the entire village.

We awoke each morning to breakfast fragrances, rising from the communal campfire. Women in dark skirts and shawls rocked back and forth over stone troughs, grinding corn for tortillas. They shaped then flipped flat circles of dough onto a metal sheet over the fire.

They stuffed us with these tender, smoky treats spread with wild honey. But I, a narrow-minded five-year-old, refused the slimy raw eggs they offered.

Thus, I escaped deadly germs. I still might have consumed a few, however, because the villagers regarded washing hands as frivolous.

They kept their lives simple.

My siblings and I didn’t need video games. My six-year-old brother Ned and a neighboring burro supplied sufficient daily entertainment.

Ned and I considered the animal’s owner an atheist because he never attended church meetings. His burro was an atheist, too. Every day, Ned shinnied up the animal so he could ride like Roy Rogers on Trigger — until the pagan burro gleefully dumped him into a colossal cactus.

Each evening, lanterns appeared like wandering stars on the darkening, rugged landscape as people walked to church. Mommy pressed magic buttons on her red-and-white mother-of-pearl accordion, playing lively songs that reminded me of cantina music. She led the singing with her high, sweet voice. Daddy’s bass voice rumbled like friendly thunder. Like Jesus, he didn’t use a microphone; still, they probably could hear him in the next village.

No one owned watches to check how long he preached. We kids often fell asleep and found ourselves in bed the next morning. The hut accom-modated two mattresses on the floor — one for us three preschoolers and one for our parents — with plenty of room for hundreds of fleas that wanted to share in our missionary endeavors.

Decades later, I learned that one day, having braved fleas, germs, dirt and nausea (she was pregnant again), Mom dampened Dad’s enthusiasm for village life with a potent line: “I said I’d live anywhere with you, but this is ridiculous.”

And I realized my complicated life is pretty simple, after all.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Have you ever tried to escape to The Simple Life?

Firefly Romance

As a child, did you run barefoot through the summer dusk, catching fireflies? Like me, you probably incarcerated them in mayonnaise jars with holey lids.

My parents tried to persuade me to release them.

This made no sense. My folks constantly looked for ways to save money. What wasn’t to love about a cool invention that lowered the electric bill? Still, when they insisted the fireflies were crying for their mommies, I freed them, trusting they were flitting home to hugs, baths and clean jammies, too.

Growing older, I wondered if something less Disney was going on. Sure enough, research revealed those Snow White scenes were actually firefly date nights. Since their adult lives last only a few weeks, love strikes these bugs like lightning; they do some serious speed dating.

Like me, Sara Lewis, a Tufts University scientist, loves to watch fireflies. Unlike me, she gets paid. For the past 25 years, Sara has noticed different species use specific flashes and delays to communicate. Opposites often attract, as seen in the following Photinus marginellus exchange:

P. marginellus Guy: Flash! (Two-second pause.) Flash! (Two seconds.) Flash! (The P. marginellus guys are the faithful, consistent types, but a little boring.)

P. marginellus Girl: Flash! (Zero delay. The P. marginellus girls are a little easy.)

A reversed pattern characterizes Photinus carolinus fireflies; with six flashes in three seconds, guys define the word “flashy.” P. carolinus women, however, wait 10 whole seconds before emitting short, coy responses that declare these dudes better show up with candy and roses.

Which some do. According to Lewis, males often bring “nuptial gifts” — food to sustain females as they lay eggs. Even in the insect kingdom, women love their Fannie May’s. Tied with red satin ribbons, thank you very much.

Because the girls are so picky, P. carolinus guys often gather in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park on the North Carolina-Tennessee border. There, they synchronize flashes to attract their ladies’ notice, creating spectacular light shows.

Unfortunately, there is a dark side to all this love and light. The female of one species fakes the signals of others to lure unsuspecting males to her place for dinner — with him as the main course!

Eww. I’m tempted to go inside and refresh my psyche with a pure-minded sitcom.

But strains of the Mills Brothers’ old song, “The Glow-Worm,” float through my mind. Hundreds of fireflies appear, tiny lights glimmering like shiny gold confetti. My husband joins me, and we hold hands, glad that children won’t lack fireflies for their mayonnaise jars.

And that these sparks light up summer evenings for all young — and old — lovers snuggling on a porch in the summer twilight.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What’s your favorite firefly memory?