Here are some things I love about Michigan in the summer. That you can float down a river in a kayak, innertube, paddleboard, even with a twelve pack of beer, right through the middle of town like its the seventies, and no one bothers you. (This is certainly a two sided coin especially as I'm sober since 2011!). The state grows excellent fruit - all manner of berries, stone fruits and apples. There are several fruit trees I hadn't encountered: The unusual sour cherry, the serviceberry, chokeberry, mulberry, and blackberries growing everywhere right about this time.
And the fireflies. The fireflies (also known as glowbugs or lightening bugs) are more of a phenomena here than I remember them being in Massachusetts. Look out over a field or lawn at dusk and you see these tiny, silent, unassuming points of light rising by the hundreds.
Tonight, I walked deliberately to a park near our house with a big field just as night was falling because I could see that fireflies were starting to rise out of the grass on our own lawn. I wanted to really experience this in the otherwise darkening space of evening.
Here's the thing about that: In order to see fireflies, you can't actually focus. You have to look with a wide open view. It's a kind of peripheral seeing.
What amazes me about fireflies is that they don't just happen for a couple of days, or in rare locations. They are this magic thing, and yet they happen all summer long as far as I know, and they are simply embedded in lawns and grasses. When they do happen, it's like they're normal. It's like: Oh, it's nighttime and the fireflies are out.
If you think about it, fireflies are magic. You can't see them if you look for them. They are under your feet when you walk. They are silent and individually a small beetle-like bug. You have to rest your eyes to receive their light show. When received, it's hard to deny that certain magic is ordinary. Shooting stars require this peripheral vision too.
Lately I've been thinking about how I work, about how I go about a day. More and more it makes sense to approach my entire life that same way, with a kind of peripheral openness and a receiving of experience, rather than thinking that I'm actually doing the things that are happening. When there's a difficult conversation, when there's a good piece of news, when something like a project or a task completes, there's a tendency to think "I did it" I focused, I made it happen, I did it. To an extent that's true, but on the other hand, there's a way that we simply receive a flow of experience that doesn't cease.
Over the fourth, we see the explosions in the sky, amazing and awe inspiring. Fireworks have their magic, but in a kind of focal stage area in the sky, and unlike the complete brilliant silence of firefly and the shooting star, they are a loud, hard to ignore and being explosives, both a simulation of and a by product of human war. It's really nice to have this softer, natural phenomenal happening all throughout, asking nothing of me.
Where is there magic right under your feet? Is it in what you are tasting, what amazing things your hands can do like grab six awkward things to take upstairs? A bird in flight, singing. A cat purring on your chest. A flower opening along a fence. A child saying your name. Please let's expand the list! Comment below and add your own...
And where would you like to rest and receive versus go out and get?
Here are some related pages from my last book, the 2021 Edition of Contemporary Prayers to Whatever Works:
THIS IS HOME
May 27 - June 26
Gallery B in Castine, ME
A four woman exhibition opening Feb 3 2023 at the Ann Arbor Art Center.
Curated by Thea Eck.
Janice Charach Gallery
West Bloomfield MI
Jan 15-Mar 1 2023
Works of pure abstraction by 18 artists including five new puffies!
Make your own hand sewn book from the papers left by a loved one.
If you feel overwhelmed, confused or just plain excited by what's afoot in your life, and would like some excellent clarifying space and tools, try a session with Hannah! She's been a coach for 15 years. First 30 minutes is just to see what it's like...
Hannah Burr is a contemporary artist and author. Originally from Boston, she lives in Ann Arbor MI.