Walt Grayson headshot
By Walt Grayson
May 2023

It has been an odd spring in Mississippi.

In March there was one week when we came within a degree or two of setting both a record high temperature and a record low. Same week. On the heels of that came the tornadoes that hit Rolling Fork in the Delta and into the hills at Wynona, and on to Amory.

A week after the Rolling Fork tornado a different round of storms hit Wynne, Arkansas and up to the Great Lakes and eastward. National reporters were saying how much worse the weather is now than it used to be. I’m not an expert, but I remember Google Xenia, Ohio, and the “Outbreak of the Century” in 1974.

Ken South, our chief meteorologist at WJTV, said he always looks forward to Mother’s Day. Usually by Mother’s Day, the severe weather track lifts out of the lower Mississippi Valley. I had never connected the two, but he’s right.

Maybe every ending is just another beginning. Just keep going when we think we hit our limit and find out.

Mother’s Day is the line of demarcation for at least one other natural phenomenon in Mississippi. It’s on the other end of the scale from severe weather. Mother’s Day is when the synchronous fireflies start to emerge. We’ve only known about these type of fireflies for a short period of time — about a decade or so. But I feel like they’ve been around for a long, long time. The thing about these fireflies — they only come out after dark. I mean really dark. They like secluded places way back in the woods. I can’t see grandma and grandpa ever taking a moonlight stroll way, way into the deep woods late at night back in their day. So, they would have never really had a reason to discover the snappy sync fireflies. 

However, I do remember being at grandma’s house in Fulton when I was a youngster. My cousin Wesley Byrd and I had been banished to sleep upstairs while the grownups took the downstairs bedrooms. I think one of our uncles was planning to use a noise maker to scare us. But we overheard his plan. The walls were thinner than he thought.

But late that night, looking out the window at a hedgerow about a quarter mile away, I saw a display of lightening bugs that struck me as unusual. Now, that was a long time ago, but I remember they weren’t the lazy floating kinds of fireflies like the ones we would catch and put in fruit jars in the front yard at twilight. The ones I saw were busy — almost frantic. Plus, you could easily see them from where we were, a quarter mile away. They were bright. Were they snappy syncs? They very well could have been.

Graduation Day comes in May, too. The end of one era and the beginning of another. The end of May is also the psychological end of spring and the beginning of summer. Endings and beginnings. Maybe every ending is just another beginning. Just keep going when we think we hit our limit and find out.

Photo of a forest with fireflies lighting in soft focus.

Category: Mississippi Seen

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