We didn’t know they’d be valuable one day, my collection of old comic books, the stacks upon stacks of issues bought for a quarter each from the spinner rack at
We didn’t know they’d be valuable one day, my collection of old comic books, the stacks upon stacks of issues bought for a quarter each from the spinner rack at Mann Drug in Asheboro, the ones that I hoarded for years in a corner of my bedroom closet. Oh, I had hundreds — the Archie series, Wonder Woman, Wendy the Good Little Witch, Casper the Friendly Ghost. My parents sold the whole lot for just a few bucks at a garage sale years ago. Gone in a flash.
And who knew that those 1970s promotional cartoon-character drinking glasses — 49 cents from Hardee’s with the purchase of a soft drink — would be worth anything? We had the entire Looney Tunes set, and when Pepsi rolled out a similar campaign a few years later, I was thrilled to get a Wendy the Witch glass! Maybe because of my love for the comic or that it just seemed seasonal — October, a witch — come autumn, I’d reach for that glass at nearly every meal. Those glasses are long gone now, relics of another era, a fleeting childhood.
In October, my mom may have hung a grapevine wreath on our front door, and I seem to remember some dried cornstalks showing up in a bucket on the porch, but otherwise, we didn’t decorate for the seasons. We were never Halloween people. In the country, there wasn’t much opportunity for trick-or-treaters to come to our door, but that didn’t stop my dad from buying plenty of candy, just in case. He set out dishes of Hershey’s Miniatures and bite-size Snickers by the door, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups in a bowl on the coffee table, Tootsie Rolls in the kitchen. (It didn’t occur to me until years later that those were the candies that he loved most.)
Now, when I see Halloween candy appear in stores, time-limited in their orange-and-black wrappers, I start to feel that shift in the seasons, the transitory time when daylight starts to dwindle, when the morning air becomes cool, when the leaves blaze in reds and yellows, a short-lived spectacle, before crimping and falling to the earth.
I felt that time shift recently at Grandfather Mountain. I was with a crowd of people who’d gathered at dusk for the synchronous firefly viewing, an extraordinary phenomenon that happens for only a few weeks every year. We spread our blankets at the edge of a service road and stared out across the forest floor, waiting for daylight to fade, for nighttime to fall.
You might think that being on top of a mountain in pitch darkness would be eerie, moody. Instead, it was calm, conversations naturally quieting as the evening dimmed.
When the fireflies began to flash, at first just a few, then hundreds in their synchronized rhythm, I heard our soft gasps in the dark, each of us bewitched by this bioluminescent magic show. The flashes came faster, the woods pulsing with the light of these tiny, floating beetles. And then — hovering, gliding — mere feet above the ground, the “blue ghost” fireflies appeared, the ones that glow steadily instead of blinking, like blue-lit lanterns. How lucky we were to catch a glimpse!
We took in the firefly show for as long as their light lasted, holding on to the awe, aware that their presence was fleeting, like so many things that we hold in wonder, like so many things we cherish.
Their lights flashed just a beat longer, and then they were gone.
Editor in Chief