A Pocket of Resistance: Lightening Bugs

i should be writing my column for next Tuesday’s edition of The Lebanon Democrat. As usual, especially in the last year, everything i think about writing i find i have already written there, or i cannot think of anything until sometime late Sunday, so i can start Sunday evening, get tired, go to bed, wake up in the middle of the night, cannot sleep thinking of the column, and get up and get to it, completing the column and the article before the midday Monday deadline, way too late to make Jared Felkins, the editor, feel comfortable even though he’s never complained. But with all of that going on in my mind, i had the urge to write about an event, actually two, that occurred to me today.

As i get closer to seventy-two, yet another milestone of no particular real significance except for it meaning i am older, i have recommitted to some physical well-being. In the last month or so, i have slackened off of my already light workouts and disregarded dietary discipline in the best state of disregarding. i love to eat and love to drink. i can no longer afford to do that at the same consumption rate of my past, but i forget and still try. Someone my age who has my history needs to be a bit more circumspect unless they are ready to go, and i may be a lot of things, but i am not ready to go.

So when the blood pressure monitor suggested i was imbibing and digesting too much, i decided (Again and again; why do i feel like i’m in that movie “Groundhog Day?”) to recommit to physical excellence, or at least what remnants of physical respectability i might attain and maintain.

i vowed to cut back on the booze and the victuals: very moderate success so far, but i am pretty well off because my gourmet chef wife cooks healthy even though i wander off that path whenever i am on my own.

i joined Maureen’s gym where she does yoga four times a week nearly every week. i ain’t into yoga because i discovered early on, there are a whole lot of poses i cannot do and a whole lot more that make me feel stupid. So i went to use all the apparatuses (can someone please tell me why the plural is not “apparati?”) and the weights and especially the rowing machine.

In addition, i decided to resume my early morning sort of aerobic workout. i began running regularly in the final year at Texas A&M NROTC. i had run at several other commands, especially the USS Anchorage, but never kept it up. After i began running almost daily, i was never fast, but from 1979 until the early 1990’s, i would run at least six miles almost every day when not at sea. After work while the Okinawa was in overhaul, in 1982-83, i would frequently run a fourteen-mile course to the Coronado Bridge and back to JD Waits and my condo in the Coronado Cays.

But those days are gone. Sporadically, i do a fartlek, power walk, or some kind of run/walk up our hill to the Catholic Church and up a gradual hill to a convenient turnaround, a distance about 3.2 miles. This practice had fallen into disuse for the last several months.

This morning i resumed the event. Waking at my usual pre-5:00 a.m., i performed my morning ablutions, took the necessary stretching, about quintuple the amount i used to perform before a run, and took off. i decided i would only do a power walk as i knew i needed to build up to running again.

It was dark when i started, giving me the sensation of a morning watch (0400-0800) on the bridge. It was quiet. i was surprised to see a couple of other walkers or runners. The most dedicated of this type go down to Rohr Park at the bottom of our hill and run the perimeter.

Mostly, except for the occasional headlights of a car headed to someone’s work, i was alone in the night. When i reached the apex and turnaround of my journey, this mariner’s eye and soul detected first light, one of the most peaceful times of any day.

Then, as i headed down the hill, i caught sight of something to my right. It looked like a lighting bug flashing once in the middle of the road. i turned my head but saw no more light and no flying bug. i discarded it as a reflection and returned to my task.

About a quarter of a mile further down the hill,  the light flashed again on the periphery of my vision. This time i stopped to look: Nothing.

i have never heard of lightening bugs in California, especially the Southwest corner. Yes, it was most likely two similar reflections. They could have been reflections in my brain.

Lightening bugs are not as plentiful, even scarce back home nowadays. The mosquito spray does not only minimize those nasty critters. i was always disappointed when i could not share one of my Lebanon childhood joys of lightening bugs with my daughters.

But there still were a few back home in the summer but none, none in the Southwest corner.

I am now convinced those two bug lights were an illusion or a reflection, a refraction of light of the moment or in my mind.

Still the remainder of the walk was easy. i thought of the jars with the holes we poked in the top; of running and jumping around that backyard, barefoot in the summer nights, catching bunches of those lightening bugs in the jar and covering with the cap; watching them for what seemed endlessly but was truly only until we had to go in and get ready for bed…and how we would awake to find the lightening bugs in the jar pretty much wiped out.

It was a long time ago, but i still remember the lesson those lightening bugs taught me.

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