It’s been a long, cool, sometimes damp spring in the mountains. From the day the ski area closed, through the lingering snows (there were still whales of snow in the Exhibition Terrain Park the last time I hiked up Tecumseh a couple of weeks ago), through several weeks when we wondered if the sun would ever come out again, spring was slow and temperamental. There were a few sunny, gorgeous days of the kind that reminded you that mud season wouldn’t last forever, but in the end, they only served to incubate the worst crop of black flies anyone can remember. Even the mosquitos seem somewhat abashed in the face of the superior firepower and sheer numbers of the black flies this spring.
It is only appropriate, then, that the first night of summer was marked by an entirely different and more welcome insect. A few days ago, I smiled when a familiar critter landed on the sleeve of my fleece and for once I wasn’t tempted to slap it: shaped like a torpedo, dusty black wing covers, twin blazes of red on either side of its head, it was a lightning bug alighting to rest for a moment. If the swallows mark spring in San Juan Capistrano, then the appearance of lightning bugs in Waterville Valley is a subtler but just as certain sign that summer is in the offing.
Tonight that promise burst to into full bloom after the sun finally dropped into the notch between Tecumseh and Osceola, the furthest north it will travel in its seasonal migration this year. The kids, tired from a warm and wonderful WVES graduation last night and an equally convivial last day of school today, finally gave up on stretching bedtime toward new summer heights and headed off to the feathers. The dishes done, Nancy and I steered toward bed ourselves. I glanced out the window before I turned on the bedside light, and my breath was momentarily taken away by what I initially mistook for a meteor shower: a hundred white sparks drifting through the air against the blue-black night sky. The fireflies were doing their summer evening waltz.
We stepped outside into the temperate night air, the perfect temperature so it felt neither cool nor warm on our skin, and were treated to a summer concert of sounds and lights. In the distance, a lady fox crooned contentedly. Closer in, the brook burbled quietly and a bullfrog thrummed. All throughout the grove of trees behind the house, the white sparks of romantic fireflies danced, near and far, in a spatial array that seemed almost cosmic in its depth. The tiny world of our backyard and the Valley we call home seemed for a moment almost as large and profound as the Milky Way, yet at once close enough to touch and call our own.
I hope this summer will find you back the Valley enjoying the beauty of nature and the company of those you love.
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Speaking of summer nights, the Waterville Valley Foundation is pleased to announce that we are once again sponsoring Shakespeare in the Valley’s popular “Sugar-Coated Shakespeare Interactive Family Matinees”. The Sugar-Coated Shakespeare program presents free, family-oriented renditions of Shakespeare’s classics — as well as a variety of educational and fun riffs on the Shakespeare theme — free to all in Town Square. As Artistic Director Donna Devlin says, “Sugar-Coated Shakespeare is hands-down the most popular facet of our theatre – they are the shows that both patrons and performers alike say is the highlight of their summer.”
The Waterville Valley Foundation is a proud supporter of Shakespeare in the Valley, and we are glad that our sponsorship over the years has allowed SITV to expand their programming and offer great entertainment free of charge to thousands of Valley visitors and locals alike.