I’ve had an obsession with fireflies for as long as I can remember, which is why the bridge is my favorite spot. I’m not sure of the exact moment it all started. I just know since I was a little girl I’ve been mesmerized by the tiny bugs’ twinkling lights. If you’ve never seen a massive amount at once, I advise you to find the closest empty field around the end of June. It might come close to one of the most beautiful things you’ve ever seen.
Michael and I hadn’t even been dating for a year yet when I showed him my favorite place in the entire world. I wanted to share it with him because it’s special to me, and what a better way to become closer to someone – by showing them the inner pieces of what makes you you.
It’s just a piece of state land off of Route 41 in Cincinnatus, New York. The rocky dirt road is sometimes easy to miss. The best way to point it out is to say it’s right across from the old farm at the bottom of Piety Hill Road. The road takes a minute or so to get down. Visitors park their cars when they’ve reached the 12-by-12 space that’s supposed to be for vehicles. Visitors then walk down the path, over the bridge above Gee Brook, then up the rest of the path to the shallow pond that sits on top of the hill. Surrounded by forests, the pond is rather small. For many, that’s it. Just a spot to fish or to camp for a night or two. For me, it’s so much more than that.
I first learned about this spot through a group of friends from high school who often brought their boats up and fished in the pond. Right from the beginning I was captured by its beauty. The serene openness in the middle of the forest, filled by peaceful quietness and a pond that glistens in the sun – moonlight too if it’s late enough. The clean air fills the noses of its guests, with hints of pine and dirt. It’s just as perfect as it sounds, although it’s much better when no one else is there.
It was a warm summer evening in early August 2014 the night I first showed Michael my spot. I wore a white tank-top and red flannel tied around my waist, with jeans tucked into brown cowboy boots. He wore a blue t-shirt, tan shorts, his first pair of gray ADIDAS sneakers, and his slightly dirty white McConnellsville hat backwards. We parked his Jeep then headed out with a woven picnic basket in hand. Over the bridge and up the hilly path. Once at the top, we sat by the bank of the pond to enjoy our picnic on my red and black plaid wool blanket that I’d had forever. Inside the basket were two salami sandwiches, heart-shaped pineapples, salt and vinegar potato chips, and a bottle of red table wine. Michael had packed the picnic himself and I couldn’t have been more impressed. It was clear by the pineapple hearts he had tried hard.
Past the pond on the left and through the weeds is a forest that aligns the neighbor’s land. Past the trees there are more paths, which we walked a while before heading back. After we turned around and left the trees, he grabbed my hand and began dancing with me in the tall green grass. We danced and spun around, at first to no music at all and then to Johnny Cash, who we both love, and some other of our favorites.
After we tired ourselves dancing and chasing each other around in the grass, we walked back down to the bridge hand-in-hand. The bridge is the best part about my spot. I told him we had to sit on the wooden bridge and wait until the sun went down. As we sat, we opened the wine and drank straight from the bottle. We talked and talked some more, about things that mattered and things that didn’t.
He got impatient after a while. “Just wait,” I said over and over again. Eventually the darkness really began to settle in the air around us and little specks of flickering lights slowly appeared. Soon enough, hundreds of fireflies, or lightening bugs as some call them, swarmed along the creek. I never really can describe to someone just how many fireflies there really are here. I’ve tried to take photos, even videos. Nothing ever does it justice.
As more and more sparkling fireflies danced around us, we sat for another hour or so continuing our conversations. It was that night, on that bridge, that Michael realized how serious I was about studying abroad in England for a semester. We confessed all of our fears about me going away for so long. I told him I honestly didn’t see how we would work through it. I remember how sad that made him but he promised me we would. A year and some odd months later, I proved myself wrong about my doubts. It was tough, no doubt. There were times I thought he would give up or I was asking too much of him. We spent our two-year anniversary in October over 3,000 miles apart. The weekend of November 21st, I was in the Netherlands and he was at his friend’s hunting cabin in the middle of a remote forest somewhere near Garratsville. With the time difference and him not having good cell service, we weren’t able to really talk for a couple of days. That was a first. We hadn’t gone a day without talking since before we met in September 2013. Our time apart mostly sucked because I was doing and seeing all these amazing things but he wasn’t there to share them with me. He’s not a quitter though. He stuck around.
That night on the bridge I realized how much I really meant to him.
Since that first night, we try to make time in our busy schedules to go a few times during the summers while we’re around my hometown. We’ve sat in the rain. We’ve sat until the late hours of the night. We’ve shared several laughs, hugs, and kisses at that spot. We’ve shared some of our deepest thoughts and concerns at that spot. Our initials are now carved into the wooden floor of that bridge. That’s something that we do. Our initials are carved into a tree by Tinker Falls in Tully, New York and a tree by ancient Roman ruins in Verona, Italy. I like to think of it as a symbol of our relationship – something permanent. The trees aren’t going anywhere, and hopefully the bridge won’t either, just like he and I.
I can’t really explain why that bridge is my favorite spot, other than its beauty, thousands of fireflies, and now the location of one of our most cherished memories. What I can explain though, is how that bridge became our spot, instead of just mine.