Friday, January 19, 2007

Scott's Google Earth Meme, Part III

This is the third installment of Scott's AELEOPE Google Earth meme.

The roof with the black X is our house; two streets away is a school, it's the one with a blue X. It's a sizeable school now, but 30 years ago, it was just a one-story three-classroom building. I went to pre-school there.

This was the educational system back then: three years of "pre-school" (nursery, kindergarten, prep); six years of elementary school (some schools had seven: first grade to seventh grade); four years of high school; four or five years to get a college degree. Today, many schools have a junior nursery level; that makes it four years that a child has to go to school before he or she can enter first grade--which, I think is ridiculous.

Anyway, I didn't have to go through nursery and kindergarten--just prep--because I could already read and write. Prep was a good year for me. It was then that I really fell in love--with books and fireflies.

The school had a big, big tree in front of it. I remember one time when the school asked our parents to allow us to stay late for a "nature" lesson. We knew that it had to do something with the tree. But, majestic as it was, we were puzzled at having to stay late. I mean, the tree was just there and we saw it every day. Why did we need to see it at night?

In a word: fireflies.

That night, it seemed like the tree was all dressed up...a most captivating creature. It looked like it was wearing a million multi-colored Christmas lights, except that the lights never stayed still for long. They blinked; they dimmed and grew brighter then dimmed again; they flitted from leaf to leaf and branch to branch. The tree's trunk was festooned with yellows, blues, oranges, reds, greens. I was mesmerized at the beauty and magic of the sight. The memory of it enthralls me even now.

It seemed like every summer evening after that night found me and my friends and siblings underneath the trees in or behind our street (after a day of playing and after dinner), watching the fireflies, catching them in bottles, setting them free again. Looking back, it seems like childhood was one long summer: idyllic, carefree, innocent. Full of wonder and laughter. Sure, there were tears, but perhaps they're one of the reasons why the fun and the laughter were so heartfelt.

But, as with all things--good and bad, it came to an end. We grew up, the fireflies vanished, never to be seen again, except perhaps in memory. It's been years since I last saw a firefly. The houses that mushroomed in the streets and the cutting down of trees saw to that. Even the gigantic mango trees behind our house have ceased to become the haunt of those beautiful and magical creatures.

My pre-school days reminds me of a whimsical yet inspiring
book by Robert Fulghum: All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten (even though I didn't go to kindergarten). Fulghum says that everything he really needs to know about living and how to live and what to do he learned in kindergarten. Such as:

Share everything.
Play fair.
Don't hit people.
Put things back where you found them.
Clean up your own mess.
Don't take things that aren't yours.
Say you're sorry when you hurt somebody.
Wash your hands before you eat.
When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together.

I subscribe to all of these, but maybe I'd add one more thing--not to his list, but to my own: never again forget the beauty and magic of the fireflies.


CSL said...

Lovely memory. I never get tired of fireflies. They are also called lightening bugs here. I was horrified once when a friend told me they used to rip off the glowing bit of a firefly and stick it on a toothpick to make magic wands. Why would anyone want to hurt such a magical little bug?

houseband00 said...

I still get to see fireflies at my parents' place and somehow, they're still fascinating!

Natalie said...

That sounds absolutely beautiful! I see a firefly here and there in te right season but never swarms of them. They always kind of startle me and I jump back and get scared but I like them all the same. Cihldhood really does feel like one long summer sometimes. I know I went to school though but even school was so fun it seemed like summer.

Lizza said...

CSL: Ohhh, that's so cruel. How could they do something like that to something so beautiful?

HB: They abound in the provinces, but not in this part of ParaƱaque anymore, sadly.

Natalie: Next time you see them, don't be scared. And yeah, somehow I get the feeling that you're the type of lady for whom childhood was summer-like.

Matt-Man said...

I dont see them around here much anymore either. We also called them Lightning Bugs. We would go out at night in the summer and see how many we could hit with a wiffle ball bat...Maybe that's why there is not as many of them around here anymore. Cheers Lizza, and have a good weekend!!

Wendz said...

You should read Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver...I have just finished it and it enthralled me. All about nature, moths, the pyramid of life, how destroying one part of the chain has such a catastrophic efect on so many other layers. Plus it's a brilliant story.

Sorry...:) your remarks about the fireflies made me think of it. Didn't mean to wax lyrical.

Lizza said...

Matt: Haha! Ohhh, you're so cruel. Poor lightning bugs. Have a great weekend, too. Cheers!

Wendz: Wax away, I don't mind. :-) Thanks for the recommendation, another book to look out for.

christine said...

I've seen a tree like that back in Dumaguete and it was amazing. I also wrote about my experience in the firefly river cruise in Donsol in my blog. If you ever get the chance to see it for yourself , please do.

H said...

Lovely memory!

The last time I saw a firefly was last to last year. August 2005. when i was on a shoot in the middle of a tiny little village with no electricity or running water. I was very very stressed out because I'd left my tapes in the hotel which was some 100 kilometers away, there was an undertone of tension between me and my cameraperson, I had my period coming on sometime right then and i just basically wanted to curl up and die... and just as I was thinking all these dark thoughts... there were these brilliant little flashes of something that darted around. And suddenly i was transported to my babyhood, and carefree hot summer nights at my grandparents' home where we'd lie back and admire fireflies and make up all sorts of magical stories about them.

Like all other things in my life, there are three such 'nature' triggers to my happiest childhood memories:

dragonflies, fireflies and tadpoles.

thank you for this magical flashback.

Lizza said...

Christine: That sounds wonderful. I'll surely go read your blog. Thanks for visiting.

H: Awwww, I'm so glad this post helped bring back some great memories for you. And it isn't hard for me at all to imagine you creating magical stories about fireflies.

Scott from Oregon said...

I wonder if you do a google earth at night, can you see the little buggers and where they are hiding?

Scott from Oregon said...

I wonder if you do a google earth at night, can you see the little buggers and where they are hiding?

Lizza said...

Haha, don't I just wish!