Of Owls and Fireflies, Spiders and Flies

Growing up, I loved going to my grandparents’ house. They had the ultimate grandparents’ house. Acres of land in the Pennsylvania woods, paths and trails to traverse through them. A rickety bridge where my sister, cousin and I would be the Three Billy Goats Gruff squaring off against our Grandma, the Troll. A pond, stuffed with frogs and fish to catch, a rowboat for the summer and a natural skating rink in the winter. A fountain and colored lights my Grandpa would sometimes turn on at night. There was a Tarzan swing that took you out over the pond, and a tire swing you always had to clear of wasps nests before using. There was a picnic pavilion where we held family gatherings and a cracked stone porch where we’d play jump rope games. There was a tractor and trailer and a backhoe that we’d pile into and our Grandpa would drive us around. We had epic Easter egg hunts that lasted hours and I don’t think there was a single year we found all the hidden eggs (there are probably some still hidden out there). There was a basement with open-back stairs and cans of Spaghetti-Os. A game room with a bumper pool table and foam mattresses on the floor where the cousins would lie to watch the movie Flipper, while the coconut head hung above us. Upstairs there were, among other rooms, the pink flamingo bathroom and the kids’ room, where we’d sleep, listening to the squirrels skittering around in the ceiling above us.

I miss that place.   One of the things I remember is that when we spent the night there, my mom almost always read the book Sam and the Firefly to us. It was about an owl named Sam and a Gus, the Firefly who used his light to write words in the air. I have never seen that book anywhere else, but if I ever do, I might have to snatch it up just for the memories.

I started taking my nieces and nephews for sleepovers at my house when there were only three of them, and the youngest (at the time) was two. The first time they ever stayed, they got onto my bookshelf (which I always HIGHLY encourage) and chose a book that was to become our version of Sam and the Firefly. I must admit, the book they picked struck me as a little strange for a 5-, 4- and 2-year-old. It was The Spider and the Fly by Mary Howitt and Tony DiTerlizzi. A Caldecott Award winner, I grant you, but a rather dark and disturbing story. I read it to them because they asked me to. And the next time they came over, they brought it to me again. And it just became our thing. Every time they come over, I wonder if it will happen. So far, it has never failed. One of them (there are four now, 11, 10, 8 and 5) always finds the book on the shelf and trots it out. And the couple times they haven’t been able to find it, they pester me until it has been located and read.

I may not have all the coolness that went along with my grandparents’ house. But, my hope is that one day, when they’re all grown up, one (or more) of them will run across this book, pick it up, smile and remember how it was our thing.

~ S.D. Bullard


~ by sdbullard on August 19, 2015.

2 Responses to “Of Owls and Fireflies, Spiders and Flies”

  1. Grandparents, family traditions, and stories = MAGIC.

  2. I keep a picture of my grandparents house in my home. I have so many wonderful memories of that place and I love how they flash in my mind every time I see that photograph. 🙂

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