The magic of nocturnal life.

Image source: Mental Floss with “10 fun firefly facts”

This weekend, the King cut the backyard grass for the first time in the spring season. At my begging request, he left a small patch of grass and wildflowers uncut under the shade of the pink dogwood trees. “It’s for the fireflies,” I explained. He shook his head, perhaps amused.

We read a dusty old book over a shared lemonade as the dusk insinuated itself around us. The fireflies gathered in the tall grass near the dogwood, that patch he didn’t mow. “They need the tall grass because the female fireflies don’t have wings,” I whispered, my voice lowered in reverence for the wonder of the falling night.

The females lie down low in the tall grass and wait for their lovers to come calling. The flicker, itself, is the mating call. And response. As soon as the daylight dims, a female firefly prepares to answer potential suitors who happen to come calling. It is she who responds to his signal- not by rising up to chase him or follow him but by flashing her own light in response. And waiting for him to descend into the grass for a rendezvous at the location of her choice.

The King seemed enchanted; my seemingly irrational supplications concerning strange lawn-mowing patterns rewarded by the haunting presence of firefly love nearby.

As the day grows longer, the night gains all the magic and mystery associated with scarcity. The melody of the owl wafts towards our bedroom window, the one to which the King has trained a confederate jasmine vine to crawl. There is nothing in the world that compares to a spring night in Alabama.

When Gnome began to mumble something about being “scared of the dark” last week, I devoted myself to preparing a lapbook that might leave night’s mystery intact while reducing the fear we associate with things we cannot see. I arm my kids with knowledge for lack of a better alternative- and because knowledge is the best form of self-defense I know.

NOCTURNES OF NATURE LAPBOOK(4 pages PDF)

MORE RESOURCES WE’RE USING TO STUDY NIGHT

NOCTURNES, a Spotify playlist
Nature Day and Night, a stunning book by Richard Adams
“Day and Night” video (Museum Victoria)
Living in Darkness activity and lesson plan (TES)
“As The Earth Turns” student web lesson (Beacon Learning Center)
How to demonstrate day and night (Learn Play Imagine)
“New study shows effects of prehistoric nocturnal life on mammalian vision” (University of Texas)
Nocturnal Life (BBC Wildlife)
Nocturnal Animal Fact Pack (Communication 4 All)*
5 animals you didn’t know were nocturnal (WebEcoist)
Different adaptations between nocturnal and diurnal animals (TES)
Nocturnal animal noises video (Tom Woodward)

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