Word spread through the Homestead during the day of a natural marvel not to be missed. After nightfall everyone began streaming into the forest, snaking single file along a trail that leads to a barren ridge poking out of the forest high above an expansive marsh where the end of the lake used to be. With no fertile ground for trees to take root the ridge provides an unobstructed view of a good 20 acres of bog hemmed in by forest. In daylight this view of the marsh is supremely serene and makes for a tent site highly coveted among the interns. Will refers to this overlook as Oak Ridge from the oak trees in the surrounding forest and speaks reverently of the view it affords. On this night, out on Oak Ridge, we felt that reverence as we became witness to a display that went beyond the supreme to the sublime.
Gasps of astonishment came from those at the front of the line as they reached the ridge and the marsh below came into full view. The gasps continued down the line as the rest of the party arrived and extinguished their headlamps. All across the marsh, confined within a field of play, was a firefly orgy. Countless miniature lamps flitting about in a massive mating dance over fetid swamp air to the thrumming of tree frogs made for such a surreal and magical spectacle that all we could do was to stare in silent wonder. Eventually there were attempts to describe this phenomenon. The scientists among us saw lampyrides exhibiting bioluminescence. The poets saw a lake of flickering light, like a giant’s disco dance floor flashing the electric energy of life preparing to multiply. All of us basked in the glow of Nature’s generosity – there was no place else we would rather be.