The Bear Brothers and the Firefly Show

A blade of grass: such an ordinary thing and, yet, a marvel, the work of a genius. The entire Universe pulsates in that blade of grass that we daily step on without acknowledging its existence. We walk on marvels every day without realizing it. Isn’t this a thing to meditate on? For many it isn’t. For too many. But not for bears. They live their life being aware and grateful for the grass that makes such a fresh fragrant mattress for when they are tired, for the shadow of a tree in the hot summer days, for the light of the moon in the dark nights, for the delicious blueberries of the forest, for the huge claws they have so they can climb trees, for the rain that gives them water (humans have pipes, that have altered their perception of water, so they often see the rain like nothing more than the nasty thing that had ruined their vacation), for the fireflies that offer them light shows more wonderful than any fireworks.

One day, I saw these two little bear brothers that were so amazed by the spectacle that the fireflies had to offer that they had forgotten to move. They sat in awe and enjoyed the show. In total silence. Without analyzing it, without comparing it to the last year performance or with any other performance they had ever seen. They just sat there and enjoyed the symphony of lights that the fireflies exhibited.

And sitting there, I felt the need and the obligation, at the same time, to educate the little bears and share them some of my knowledge. So, there I was, telling them that the fireflies are actually beetles, not flies as one might think. That they belong to Lampyridae family that has more than 2000 known species. That the fireflies spend the most of their life (about 1-2 years) in larval stage eating snails, worms and slugs, which they inject with a paralyzing substance. That their adult life lasts only several weeks and they feed on nectar and pollen but most adults of many kinds of fireflies do not feed at all. Given the small amount of time they have on this Earth for finding a mate, they don’t want to waste it on eating. Their soul mate could pass by just when they are busy chewing or digesting and puff, their chance for finding their written-in-the-stars pair is gone. So … for the love sake, these romantic beetles choose not to eat anything and stay alert, eyes wide open, light flickering, or, at least, this is my romantic approach on the matter.

The little bears were so quiet while they had been listening to what I was saying, looking so interested in the subject, that I felt obliged to share some more. So, after a short pause, I started to talk again. And so, the little cubs had learned that the fireflies don’t flash their lights just to brag about what they can do. It is, actually, a love call (for most of the species, at least). The male emits light from up in the sky mainly to attract mates. And he has to be really engaged and creative with his light flash pattern as the female will respond back from the ground level, only if she is impressed. I also let them know that there are some regions on Earth where the exponents of a species, called synchronous firefly, “blink” in unison. That would be a nice light show to watch! And I kept on telling them many other interesting facts I knew on the subject.

But for the little bears enough was enough. Their mother thought them to be respectful so they tried to listen to me carefully for a while. But soon it became too much for them. Why is this lady keep on talking while the show is on? Does she have no respect for the performers, they wondered, probably. Does she not enjoy the show? At last, they managed to gather all their courage and, politely, asked me to shut up and just watch. In other words, of course, but this was the idea.

And they were right. Even if I was offended at first… I couldn’t blame them for wanting to just be and let the magic of the moment infuse all their senses. And I did the same…finally. So, in the end, the little cubs were the ones that thought me a valuable lesson, that has remained with me ever since.

* For this piece I was inspired by the Moon Bear’s sad stories that I’ve read lately and by the “Grave of the Fireflies” wonderful animated movie (a must see IMO).*

Thank you for stopping by and taking the time to read the story behind my painting.

Please excuse my eventual mistakes, as English is not my first language.

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