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  • Writer's pictureHummingbird Retreat

Week 37

Wildlife Wonder- Fireflies

A few times at night, I have looked out of the window and have seen a show of little white lights darting around the trees and bushes outside. This light show is created by fireflies which are actually Elateroid beetles. There are more than 2000 different species of fireflies around the world but their numbers are quickly declining due to various threats such as loss of their natural habitats, climate change, light pollution and pesticide use. They particularly like warm, humid conditions which is why there are probably more around at the moment.

They grow to about 2.5 cm in length and they have brown or black bodies with orange-yellow markings. Some of the females do not have wings and these, along with the long, flat larvae, are commonly referred to as glow worms. Both sexes are luminesce and sometimes the larvae are luminescent even before they hatch. The larvae live on the ground and eat snails and slugs and then, like a caterpillar, it creates a pupa to turn into a firefly. Adult fireflies live off pollen or nectar and some don’t eat at all.

The fireflies produce light by a chemical reaction inside their bodies called bioluminescence which the firefly controls by choosing when to release oxygen, which starts the reaction. For those of you who want a bit of chemistry, this oxygen combines with calcium, adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and a chemical called luciferin in the presence of a bioluminescent enzyme called luciferase, to produce the light. This is a ‘cold light’ rather than a hot light which would be like a light bulb, otherwise it would burn the fireflies. The light is used as a signal to find mates but may also act as a warning to predators. However, not all predators take the hint and frogs have been known to glow, if they have eaten too many fireflies!

Grenadian Gifts- Daisy

When I first came here and I was on my own, I felt a little hesitant to walk down to the beach by myself, until I got to know how safe and friendly this area was. However, on that first trip to the beach, I met this wonderful ‘Grenadian gift’, who I now know as Daisy. I didn’t feed her or even stroke her as she seemed to be a stray but even so, we seemed to form a bond. When I left the beach she walked back up with me, to the house. She made me feel so safe, like I had a personal bodyguard and I said goodbye to her and shut the door. So I was very surprised the next morning, to find her still on my porch. She had stayed there all night, despite me still not feeding her, although I did offer her some water. After that night here, she has never been back. It was as if she knew I just needed that reassurance for my first trip down to the beach.

I have since got to know that she was adopted by the owner of a local guesthouse, who had named her Daisy. Sadly the guesthouse has recently been sold and so I am unsure if anyone is still caring for her. However, she seems quite happy roaming around with the other dogs on the beach.

As a dog lover, one of the things I found hard when I first came to Grenada was seeing so many stray dogs in such poor condition. However twenty years on, there are now just as many dogs roaming around but a lot of them have owners and there are more neutering and animal welfare projects that work with strays.

If you travel around the island you will see groups of dogs hanging out together, almost copying the guys sitting around a rum bar. You may also see a dog walking briskly down the road with his tail in the air and almost a smile on his mouth as if he has an important meeting to get to. It does seem that the dogs on the island have a parallel community that they all share.

One of the hardest things about leaving the UK was saying goodbye to my dog, Sasha. She is a lovely, but elderly, labradoodle and who is quite happy living with my daughter in the UK rather than trying to adjust to life here. So Daisy is a good substitute and I value how she rushes over to greet me when I go down to the beach and sits by my bag while I take a swim. At some point, I will get a dog here as a guard dog and I had considered having Daisy if her owner couldn’t find another home for her. However, she is a free spirit who loves to socialise on the beach and also, she wouldn’t make a great guard dog because no one has ever heard her bark!

Reflections from the Retreat

Recently Hurricane Tammy passed through the Caribbean, and thankfully it was about 400 miles away but we still had violent storms in this area, during that time. The thunder and lightning woke me up and I sat and watched the storm, which is when I also noticed some of the fireflies dancing around. At a church service I attended last Sunday they prayed for safety in the hurricane season and I can understand their concerns because the tropical storms are strong enough.

The recent one brought down the electricity and so we were without power for about twelve hours. Sadly, when this returned we realised that the internet was still down and that a lot of the Wi-Fi modems had been destroyed by the power of the electricity surge, caused by lightning hitting the wires.

However, I was very impressed with how speedy the internet provider was in bringing out new modems to us, installing them and getting us back online. Without Wi-Fi for over a day I realised how much I google things and how important it is for me to get WhatsApp messages. I suddenly felt very disconnected, even from people locally who are on our local WhatsApp group.

During this time, my spiritual community, Contemplative Fire, held a silent vigil for peace in the Middle East. Although I couldn’t join them online, I still lit my candle and held that area in prayer. I often feel powerless, praying into such complex and chronic world events and as I prayed I was aware of being powerless both in the physical sense of having no electricity and also feeling emotionally powerless in the face of such pain and suffering.

It concerns me when countries rush to take sides in such conflicts as the Middle East and in Ukraine rather than siding with peace against conflict. The lyrics of ‘You’re the voice’ came to mind – ‘we’re all someone’s daughter, we’re all someone’s son, how long can we look at each other, down the barrel of a gun?’ It is hard to believe in this generation, that there are still leaders around the world who think that war is a solution. Too much power had destroyed my Wi-Fi modem and I’d lost my power to communicate. Perhaps there is a parallel here for those world leaders who want more power or take power from others. If this hunger for power becomes too great, they then too lose their ability to communicate and sadly then they can only speak through violence.

On a more positive note about power, I have found a very good electrician who, as I write, is installing ceiling fans and more lights around the house. We have also started talking about the possibility of solar panels. So perhaps this circles back to my musings about power. As we look to new ways of finding power that are better for the planet, perhaps world leaders could look in new directions to find a greater sense of power, that is also better for our planet.

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