July 4, 2021
Gunpowder vexes the night in booms and bangs to celebrate our Independence and a little something troubles my bare arm as I recline in the warm evening. I look down, perchance to swat away the affrontive mosquito—but no, it is a larger bug, with long, dark wings, almost a rectangle: And I ask it “Can you light up?” And, as it flies away, it does. A lightning bug!
As a boy in the flatlands of Illinois I chased them by the hundreds, catching them in my hands and sequestering them in glass jars with holes poked in the lid so they could breathe. We were not so callous as to kill them by suffocation. We would only imprison them overnight and release them the next day if we remembered—our innocence exceeded only by our youth. Here in this boreal clime where I am resolved to age in place, we do not see so many lightning bugs. Still, they are with us and more than welcome as we pass our summer evenings in contemplation of how far we have traveled.
Larry F. Sommers, Your New Favorite Writer
Price of Passage
Norwegian Farmers and Fugitive Slaves in Pre-Civil War Illinois
(History is not what you thought!)