Maybe it’s because I grew up in London that I’d never seen fireflies before.
Maybe they don’t even populate the UK.
I have no idea. After all, I’ve barely seen a bright night in my city, the millions of lamps and high levels of pollution taking away its natural wonders, so how on earth would I ever see something as delicate and as quietly beautiful as a firefly? In the past I’d only ever seen them in American films: young boys capturing them and putting them in glass jars to marvel at them or give them as a gift to impress a girl, but never in person, never in real life.
Until I visited Cambodia.
We had taken an evening boat trip in Kampot to see the sunset on the lake. With beers and pillows, we travellers settled in and chatted, getting to know each other as we asked the usual questions of ‘so where are you from?’ ‘where are you going?’ ‘where have you been?’ and more, basking in the warmth and gentle breeze. They played music on the boat, trying to create a lively atmosphere, but everything fell quiet as we watched the sun disappear and darkness take over, our eyes adjusting as we pulled up alongside some greenery. Complete darkness quickly engulfed us as the boat switched off its engines and lights, leaving us floating, our senses alert.
Complete darkness, that was, until our guide pointed to one of the trees and we saw a myriad of glittering lights; hundreds and hundreds of specks glowing in the black. Fireflies! My first time seeing them, and I fell so instantly in love and was so struck by their beauty and so in awe that I thought I would never want the moment to end.
Until I did want it to when the guide started blasting Owl City through the speakers, ruining the stillness and romanticism of the night… because even if ‘Fireflies’ is a good song, there’s a time and a place, and it certainly wasn’t during that peaceful moment with nature.