One Small Spark

Monday morning I arrive at my office normally. It’s a small government agency in Washington, DC. My desk is on one of the upper floors of the building. The air is a little stuffy – they don’t run the air conditioning on the weekends – and it’s always dry inside the building. I go through my morning routine, checking e-mails, looking at some documents that were put on my desk, so on.

After about 20 minutes, I open my desk drawer, and movement catches my attention. A bug!

A lightning bug.

There’s a lightning bug, or firefly, on his back in the drawer, legs waving in the air, trying to right himself. There’s no doubt he’s a male – females are wingless and look different.

I find this startling to comprehend. Why would a lightning bug be inside a desk drawer, deep in a government office? None of the building’s windows open to the outside. To get here he would have had to travel in the front door, then go up the elevator somehow, then find his way under a door and into the desk.

The other possibility is that he fell into the drawer out of my hair. I did take a shortcut through the woods to start my commute. For that to be the case, however, he would have had to ride in my hair for a full hour in the Metro subway system, mostly underground.

So his presence here is a mystery. But his struggle to right himself is real. How long has he been here on his back, without water? All weekend or just a moment after I opened the drawer?

I gently lift him with a piece of paper and drop him into a small container. Now what? He must go outside, somewhere in this blazing hot concrete wilderness. I take the elevator back down and go looking for habitat.

Some distance down the block is a wide planter, perhaps 15 feet on a side, with flowers and a shade tree. It’s just been watered and is glistening with droplets. So I release him here. It’s not much, but it’s better than the inside of a government desk.

May you find the flicker of a female despite the million lights of the city, little one.

Nice little story!

Don’t rule out that it is a trained Russian spy.
You should be especially concerned if you find a beluga whale in a drawer.

Your office has been bugged! :smiley:

Not exactly true. (I’ve been working on a firefly project the past week)

I had a somewhat similar experience Sunday night. I was sitting at the computer and happened to notice something out of the corner of my eye–it had been raining hard and an American green tree frog was enjoying the weather on the sliding glass door beside my desk. I took a few photos of it from inside, then wanted to get some outside shots. The frog was on the inner door right at the far end, so I had to very slowly edge it open–the door would slide under the outer door and the frog would move a few inches to the side to avoid the outer door that was pushing against it. But before I got the door wide enough open to squeeze out, the frog chose to jump down.
Maybe an hour later I looked and it was back on the door, this time in a location where I could safely open the door. So I open it, point my phone around to the outside and start blindly taking photos (while trying to not get the phone wet.) After a while, I picked up the frog to photograph in my hand. But after a few photos he jumped onto the door frame. Before I could move him from there, he jumped into the house. I spend two or three sessions crawling on the floor using the phone flashlight scouring the floor (and nearby walls) looking for the frog, but no luck. Then, hours later, I go to the bathroom across the room and down the hall. And sitting on the middle of the door around head height was the frog. I grabbed him and put him back outside. (Where he is probably eating lightning bugs.)