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I’m sitting on the porch enjoying the mild breeze. The dogs keep reminding me they haven’t had supper yet, but the sun is still high at 6:30.

I’m anticipating tonight’s light show — the fireflies have returned! At dusk they begin rising from the corner meadow and beyond, silently blinking their secret codes.

Watching them is soothing in these stressful times. I watch them again from my bedroom window when I wake in the middle of the night. Different species have different displays. In the wee hours, they fly higher and their flight is more horizontal. They seem larger and more yellow, and their lights glow longer.

In my old age, my insomnia has a pretty regular pattern. I wake up and pick up my phone to check the time. Always around 2 a.m., give or take half an hour.

Last week, when I woke, I saw I had missed several texts from our oldest in Seattle while I was sleeping. Chandra had sent late-night reports of tear gassing of a peaceful protest in Capitol Hill, a neighborhood in Seattle where he used to live and where his office is now.

We now know that the flash bangs and tear gassing ended when the police withdrew, and the people created the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ). But getting those texts in the middle of the night was scary. I wasn’t sure how it would end (and I suppose things could turn yet again). I worried about our boy. Though he attends the protests (masked and trying to keep his distance), by evening he was sheltering at home a few miles from the trouble. Still, I worried about the emotional toll.

While I watched those peaceful fireflies, I thought about the contrast between these lights and the flash bangs in the video he sent. I lay down, but I had a hard time getting back to sleep.

I tossed my boy’s texts around in my mind, letting them rumble, until the dawn crept into the bedroom. I worried about Chandra worrying. I felt that I could read anxiety between the lines of his rapid-fire midnight texts. It was then that I formulated my plan. I decided to call him the next morning and ask him to pay close attention to his emotional health, to take calming breaths when he realized he was feeling upset. We all need to take our mental and emotional health into account, and maybe we all need a reminder to step back and attend to self-care.

The next morning, he assured me that he was OK, and he would be careful of his health, both mental and physical.

Although I worried that he might be annoyed with his meddling mother, he seemed to appreciate my call, and our talk turned to the new puppy, Lagertha, and how she was getting along with Freyja — both Bernese mountain dogs.

A few days later he texted: “Visited the autonomous zone today — great vibe, everyone watching out for each other. The precinct is now a stage for black folks to speak to the crowd.”

He knows, of course, that this is not the end of the story, that we still have more work to do, that a “great vibe” in one neighborhood doesn’t mean everyone is having a fine time.

Still, it may be a chance for a small intake of healing, calming breath, a gathering of strength and possibility.

Dusk has now fallen on my reverie.

How could two hours pass so quickly? I fed the dogs, watered my victory garden, checked on the baby turkeys, pulled some weeds, put the chickens to bed, and now I’m back on the porch with my laptop.

The beginning of the fireflies’ dance rises out over the corner meadow and in the yard, like slow bubbles of light rising in my glass of kombucha.

Is it my imagination, or are there more fireflies now than last year, when I worried so about them? Is it the mild spring weather? Or the natural ebb and flow of the cycles of growth?

Will we emerge from this pandemic of racism and contagion with greater knowledge and greater compassion? I hope so.

Inhale Beauty; Exhale Peace; Blessed Be

Mary Lucille Hays lives in Birdland near White Heath. She would like to wish a very happy Father’s Day to her stepdad. Love you Bob! You can follow Birdland on Instagram and Twitter @BirdlandLetters. Mary can be reached at or via snail mail care of this newspaper.