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Today’s question: How does one not write about the fireflies?

I saw the first blue-green wink two weeks ago, but had forsworn reporting on the topic as I have written about the brilliant bugs so many times in the past. Then last night after a long walk out back, I climbed out of the valley to the ridge and turned for home in the gloaming only to find myself treading a tunnel of twinkles.

This pure visual delight gave me something to ponder as I stumped the final half-mile to the yard. How we might see something for the thousandth time and yet see it for the first time one more time. Those bugs are really something.

I set off on this stroll in part because I hadn’t hardly moved my lard over the course of the day, but also because I had spent far too much of the day staring at electrons, which as we know are negatively charged. To wrap up the day wading through a hidden holler of overgrown goldenrod seemed just the thing.

Some of the electrons I scanned comprised an article detailing the spread of ticks and their associated diseases throughout the United States. The term “pandemic” was invoked (I’m never clear on the definition of that one, apart from, “No thank you.”). The country boy in me wants to scoff at tick warnings as softie silliness, as I was raised on the phrase “tick check” and we made sport of squashing the fat ones on the barn floor, but it is clear things have taken a turn. Several of our family members have had Lyme. In some cases, the effects have reverberated for years. Now there are other strains of tick, and other strains of trouble. Before setting out on my walk I sprayed the cuffs of my jeans with repellent, then spritzed the other exposed bits of me with good old-fashioned “Off!” There are more organic options available in the house, but in my experience the insects treat them as salad dressing.

So the tick hordes are en route. I guess it’s just one more wave in a tide of unease seeping through the national consciousness. We are constantly riding a wobble-board teetering between hunkering down and throwing up our hands. Or stepping off the board and covering our eyes, hoping it makes us invisible. Lately I have found some relief in quietly supporting the efforts of other people smarter than me. More effective than me. People who subscribe to a blend of thoughtful reflection ruddered by practicality and pragmatism.

As a father, I chew daily on how best to prepare my children for the future we are giving them. Short on solutions, I tend to focus more on navigation skills. Among these I intend to recommend technology-free hikes that end in darkness broken by intermittent stipples of bioluminescence, just the sort of thing to ease your mind before you shut the chickens in and get some rest before whatever tomorrow brings.

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An original “Roughneck Grace” column exclusive to the Wisconsin State Journal. Audio versions may air on “Tent Show Radio” (tentshowradio.com). Read more from Michael Perry at www.sneezingcow.com.

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