Monday, June 22, 2015

Magic in Nature

As an author of speculative fiction, I constantly imagine and dream of new worlds. Magic is something fun to write about, and to envision. Yet, occasionally I encounter something in nature that is more magical than anything I've dreamed. Such sights fuel imagination, stirring creativity to new levels.

Last week, I was walking my dog at twilight. There is a huge tree behind my yard, which stood silhouetted against the rapidly dusking sky. As I watched, the entire tree sparkled. Hundreds of fireflies swarmed around every branch, shining for a moment, before darting somewhere new. My camera was inside, and even my phone was charging (the pic above isn't the tree, I borrowed a different pic from the internet). With no way to record such an image, I simply stared. Glowing dots dancing and flying around a shadowy mass of tangled branches. Fairies flying around a giant? Magic sparkling around a void?

I looked at the top of the tree, and saw something spewing from the tree's crown. I thought, perhaps, the tree was smoking. These tiny sparks flew upward, with clouds of smoke wafting away. After a moment of confusion, I realized what the dark swirls were. Dozens and dozens of bats circled the tree, perhaps planning to eat some of the fireflies. The effect was pure magic. Sparkles below, a shadow behind, and waves of winged smoke circling above. 

When I returned inside, I instantly dove into my writing.

What sights in nature have inspired you lately?


  1. Hi Chris, what's the old adage about having time to stand and stare. lovely moment for you and thanks for letting us share it, Anne Stenhouse

  2. Thanks for stopping by Anne. :-) Any inspiring moments for you recently?

  3. Chris, I love fireflies. What a wonderful sight that must have been. As you said, magical!

    My sister gets a lot of fireflies where they live in northern Illinois. I love to visit them in the summer and watch the fireflies dancing in their backyard. We don't get as many here even though I make mention of fireflies in my third Kay Driscoll mystery coming out in Fall.

    Wonderful post!

  4. Thanks Susan. We get a ton of fireflies here in DC. My wife and I actually just had our whole front yard re-landscaped, mostly with vegetable gardens and some flowers. One type of beetle really seemed to be eating up some of the flowers. I found one inside the house, and without hesitation smashed it- oh no, the beetle started to glow- I'd killed a firefly by mistake. Felt super-guilty. :-)

  5. I wonder what draws fireflies to certain areas of the country. Your front yard sounds lovely. Have a great summer, Chris.