There are faeries at the bottom of our garden. At dusk when the grasses sway in the meadow beyond the garden gate, and a wild apple reaches its gnarled limbs to touch the western stars, they rise and begin their meandering flight. From under leaf and blade, first one, then hundreds of winking lights call and respond among the grasses, hover like will-o-wisps in the night vapors, swirl and eddy in the treetops. Fireflies weave their magic dance.
My little girl lies feverish with Lyme disease, her dark eyes ringed and hollow and skin hot to the touch. A month of antibiotics will soon bring relief, but tonight her fever has yet to break and her room feels heavy and oppressive when I kiss her goodnight. I scoop her up in my arms, wrapped in her bed sheet, and carry her downstairs and outside to the backyard to watch the dancing lights.
At first, as her eyes adjust to the darkness, she does not see them. Then - excitement - she sees one, then more, then lights beyond counting flitting across the meadow and around the wrought iron gate where spider wort droops and moonflowers twine. "I never knew we had fireflies in our garden, Dad" she says. "I will write them a message saying 'fireflies welcome'."
"They are calling to each other" I say, watching the flickering display. "Here I am, come dance with me!" I slowly spin with my child in my arms, a gentle reel with the white sheet trailing in the cool night wind. We twirl and the stars spin above us and twinkle in the grass at our feet. We spot a firefly very close, reach to cup it in our hands and marvel at its luminous glow. It crawls across my palm and launches into the darkness and out into the meadow to rejoin its fellows.
Spriggans leap and brownies laugh and swamp candles flicker on Midsummer nights. My daughter and I watch the fireflies dancing at the bottom of the garden.
Now, until the break of day / Through this house each fairy stray. / To the best bride-bed will we, / Which by us shall blessed be; / So shall all the couples three / Ever true in loving be; / And the owner of it blest / Ever shall in safety rest. / Trip awa; make no stay; / Meet me all by break of day. - Oberon, A Midsumer Night's Dream