Humor Columnist



















Meet the Columnist

Columnist, Sheila Moss, is humor writer from  Tennessee. She writes  a weekly human interest column about daily life and the funny things that happen to everyone.

   She has written for  the Daily News of Kingsport,   Griffin Journal, Oakridge Now, Atlanta Woman Magazine, Aberdeen Examiner, Angleton Advocate,  and Smyrna AM, a supplement of the Murfreesboro Daily News Journal. She has been published by Voyageur Press, McGraw Hill, and the good folks at Guidepost Books.  Her articles have appeared in numerous anthologies and other publications, both in print and online.

    She is a former board member and past  Editor of  the, website of  the National Society of Newspaper Columnists, the oldest and largest professional organization for columnists. She is the Web Editor of Southern  and  a founder of the Southern Humorists writers' organization. She is writer, editor, and webmaster of

    To carry her weekly column in your newspaper, or to republish an article, please contact her. It's that easy. 

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Lightning Bugs...

The Lightning Bugs

Even without looking outside, I know when firefly season is here. Every year about May or June, I start getting hits on my website from people looking for information on fireflies, or "lightning bugs" as we commonly call them here in the South. 

I added a bit of firefly information, just for the heck of it,  for the people that came there by mistake looking for lightning bug information and finding only my lame attempts at humor. 

I always wonder what it is about fireflies that seems to capture the imagination and make people want to understand them. Sure, kids are fascinated, but they are kids. It doesnít take much to amuse a child. 

All of us who grew up where fireflies were plentiful remember running barefoot through the cool grass, chasing the glowing bugs and catching them with our bare hands. Nothing was more thrilling than a jar full of captive sparkling lighting bugs. We were fascinated. We longed to save the beauty forever and hold it in our glass jar, traditionally with holes punched in the top for air. 

We sometimes mutilated the bugs looking for the secret to the flash, but were never able to find it. Alas, when night became day, the fireflies were nothing but ugly bugs. We dumped them in disgust. Yet, we would return the next night to try again. Chasing and capturing the fairylike creatures of the night was a summer pass time for children.

Perhaps it is the memories that cause adults to return to look for firefly information, to seek to understand what was not then understandable, but remained a source of wonder. Science can explain what we could only ponder about in our childish ways: a mixture of luciferin and luciferase, a chemical reaction between the two, a flash controlled by abdominal muscles. 

Our adult mind seeks to comprehend all this, but our heart knows that none of it is true. They are magic! No, we no longer believe in magic because we are adults now and know that there is no such thing. Everything has an explanation and a reason. But the heart of hearts can still wish that it were so.

Here in Tennessee the lightning bugs have appeared. They seemed somewhat earlier this year than normal, perhaps because an unusually warm spring aided with the hatching of the glowworms and the maturing of the fireflies, who are actually beetles with two pairs of wings, and not flies at all.

Now that I am older and wiser, Iíve learned that there are hundreds of species of fireflies and several can often be seen together. Iíve learned that moisture is what is needed to keep them alive, not air holes in the top of a jar. Iíve traveled and studied them and read articles, though Iíll freely admit that bugs are not really my forte.

In the western United States, fireflies are rarely, if ever, seen. It is difficult to imagine a warm summer night with no fireflies, California children growing up without the fireflies to light their way to maturity. In most of the states east of Kansas, however, their flashing dance brings joy to even the most seasoned cynic.

The firefly season is here. Take a moment to watch, to smile, to enjoy the simple pleasures. It is but a season, and like childhood, like life and like magic, it will soon be gone.

Copyright 2001 Sheila Moss


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