An Evening On The Deck In The Burbs

Photo taken on July 9, 2019 at 8:26 PM, five minutes before the Sun set.

On Tuesday evening of last week a simple notion swam into my mind. When it made its presence felt I immediately became comfortable with it. And minutes later I answered its call. To wit, I gathered together a bottle of beer, a glass mug, a bottle opener, a box of Cheez-It crackers and a portable radio. Then I opened one of the two doors that lead to the deck attached to the rear of my house and stepped onto that planked structure with the just-mentioned items in hand. Atop the outdoor table I placed them. And upon one of the chairs surrounding the table I deposited my bony, lazy ass. I like the deck a lot, but for reasons associated with a mild-to-medium case of stupidity I don’t relax on it as often as I should. Tuesday evening of last week was only the second or third time I took advantage of the deck since outdoor-sitting weather arrived in April.

The trees on my lot and on surrounding properties have grown madly since my wife Sandy and I took ownership of our suburban-Philadelphia home in 2005. Back then you could see the Sun dip below the horizon from the deck, because our wooden friends were of manageable size. But that was then and now is now. On the night in question I stepped outside at 8:20 PM, eleven minutes before the big ball of fire was scheduled to bid adieu to the Philadelphia region. Not only did trees block out the horizon and the Sun from my perch, they did the same to much of the sky. Ergo, there wasn’t a whole lot of sunset to be seen.

But I didn’t let those realities bother me, as I was in a relaxed mood, a mood that inched closer to the “highly contented” end of the spectrum during the hour and 40 minutes I spent on the deck. And why not? That’s what drinking beer, munching on Cheez-Its and listening to music on the radio will do to you. As will nonchalantly paying a decent amount of attention to what’s going on around you as the sky gradually makes its way from plenty bright to awfully dark. The bottom line is that, after a while, I found myself lost in the evening’s slow flow, a gentle state of affairs the likes of which happen to me only every now and then.

8:48 PM
8:56 PM

Fifteen minutes or so after sunset I admired the pale pink and purple hues in the western part of the sky not obscured by leafy branches or by houses, including mine. And I took note of birds chirping and of insects’ buzzes and clicks. The insects continued to harmonize once dusk began to take hold, but the birds stopped their chatter at that point and hit the sack. And it was impossible not to steal glances at the Moon, which was a few rungs above eye level in the southern sky. It glowed proudly in the clear heavens both before and after darkness arrived, and noticeably moved westward during my stay outside.

Motorcycle roars, somewhere in the distance, filled the air on several occasions while I sat. Central air conditioner systems hummed in unison. I heard the tooting of a train passing through my little town, and the sirens of two or more police vehicles. You know, the man-made sounds seemed as natural as those of the birds and insects, even the jarring ones that usually bug the hell out of me. Yeah man, I was in a mellow groove.

9:28 PM

Music kept me company mighty finely, as I’d known it would. I heard 20 songs or thereabouts on the radio, and they all fit snugly into the evening. One of them especially pleased me, partly because it came over the airwaves (via WRDV, a station in a town close to mine) when darkness was comfortably settling in. That’s the time of day when dreaminess becomes part of the picture.

I’d never heard of Theola Kilgore (born 1925, died 2005) before. I don’t know why, because she had a strong career in the soul and gospel music worlds. Nor had I heard her recording or any other recording of This Is My Prayer, which came out in 1963 and is such a good love song. The late Ed Townsend, a singer and songwriter who fully penned “For Your Love” and co-wrote “Let’s Get It On” with Marvin Gaye, composed Prayer. I sighed happily when Theola began to sing. I knew that I was in good hands. Her pleading, honest vocals can shake you to your knees.

At about the time that Theola Kilgore was entering my heart, a quarter past nine o’clock, I couldn’t help but notice that fireflies were starting to kick their show into high gear. Tiny lights flashed to my left, to my right, in front of me, everywhere. The performance was wonderful, and was the main focus of my attention until I headed back into the house at ten after ten.

Is it possible to photograph fireflies? With high-end cameras in the hands of knowledgeable photographers I have no doubt that it is. But with an iPhone in the hands of an amateur? Well, I tried, snapping shot after shot, hoping that one or two little light bursts would appear at the moment that my finger pressed the camera button. I’m not going to bet my life on it, but I believe that one of my attempts might have paid off. It’s hard to say, of course, whether those pinpricks are from fireflies or are artificial lighting, peeking through dense foliage, from a house behind mine. But I’ve got my money on the former. Here’s the photo. The dots are firefly lights, right? Right?

Fireflies? (Photo taken at 9:47 PM)

(Please don’t be bashful about adding your comments or about sharing this essay. Mucho gracias.)

(If you click on any photo, a larger image will open in a separate window.)

122 thoughts on “An Evening On The Deck In The Burbs

  1. jimreyno2013 July 18, 2019 / 12:28 am

    Hey! I tried to find you on Facebook, please add me if you’re on it. All the kids are doing it. Us jazz guys gotta stick together. Cheers
    Jim Reyno

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger July 18, 2019 / 9:14 am

      Hi Jim. The only form of social media that I’m on is WordPress (i.e. my blog). This is where you’ll find my words of wisdom!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. George July 18, 2019 / 1:08 am

    Lovely writing. I was right there with you. I could almost taste the beer and the Cheezits, watching the sky turned purple and fade to black with the fireflies buzzing (I could see them in my mind’s eye if not in the photo) and Theola singing. What a voice. What a song. Emotion straight and pure backed with nicely understated choral and orchestral flourishes. I was about to reach for another beer as a nightcap, when I realised I’m in the UK, and it’s 6.00 am, and I’ve got to get up and go to work.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Audrey Driscoll July 18, 2019 / 1:26 am

    Fireflies are not to be found on Vancouver Island, and maybe nowhere in British Columbia either. Last time I saw them was when I was in Chicago for a conference more than 30 years ago. There’s something magical about those little guys! Thanks for reminding me of them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger July 18, 2019 / 9:16 am

      Fireflies are great. Some years there are far more of them than in other years. There seems to be a good supply of them so far this summer in my area.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. andrewcferguson July 18, 2019 / 2:22 am

    Very atmospheric, Neil. That’s the problem with trees: they tend to ignore design principles and just keep on growing! We have similar problem in our suburban neighbourhood – but it’s worth it to see the biodiversity creeping in, year on year.

    Sounded like that beer hit the spot perfectly!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger July 18, 2019 / 9:18 am

      You know, I’ve looked for beers brewed in Scotland since I got home. But so far I haven’t found any. The beer that I had on the deck came from Colorado.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Lynette d'Arty-Cross July 18, 2019 / 2:27 am

    Great post – your relaxed evening really came across in your description. 🙂 I am happy to hear that you had such an enjoyable time.

    Fireflies are hard to see in western Canada because they come out very late (1 or 2 a.m.) and in the more northern parts have to compete with the sun’s late bedtime.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Annika Perry July 18, 2019 / 4:17 am

    Neil, your sense of peace and harmony is contagious… although I’m reading about the end of your day whilst at the start of a new one for me I feel calm and mellow! Looks like you were all set to enjoy the evening; I love the photos and lucky you getting to see some fireflies! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger July 18, 2019 / 9:22 am

      Hi there, Annika. Good to hear from you. I should go outside, when it’s dark at night, more often than I do. I like to look at the Moon and the stars and at fireflies.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. ellie894 July 18, 2019 / 6:36 am

    This was lovely writing of a beautiful evening. It left me serene. And the song is quite wonderful! It was new to me too. …definitely fireflies
    Suzanne 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger July 18, 2019 / 9:26 am

      Hi Suzanne. I listen a lot to radio shows that play soul, R&B, Motown, etc.
      And I don’t know why I’d never heard that song before. It seems to have slipped through the cracks.

      Liked by 1 person

      • ellie894 July 18, 2019 / 9:50 pm

        I’m often mystified at how that happens. I love music and suddenly discover a new old song. And I think, how did I never hear this before?!

        Liked by 1 person

  8. sniderjerry July 18, 2019 / 6:46 am

    The Zen Masters, My Marine Drill Instructors, and you Neil got it right -PAY ATTENTION – now hand me the crackers, please. Thanks for another great read. Jerry

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger July 18, 2019 / 9:27 am

      Jerry, have you had the extra toasty variety of Cheez-Its? I think I like them more than the original version.


  9. vprofy July 18, 2019 / 7:39 am

    Several weeks ago I took to sitting on the back deck in the late morn, early afternoon, reading. I commented that since we weren’t going to the shore, sitting on the beach, I should, could just enjoy the backyard.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger July 18, 2019 / 9:28 am

      Right, it’s good to be outside in a peaceful environment. Thanks a lot for dropping by. See you —


  10. greenpete58 July 18, 2019 / 8:13 am

    Beautiful evocation of the serenity one can get through quiet Absence. I was hoping our planet’s ubiquitous iPhone would remain in your pocket, but alas, it squirmed its way out at the end. That’s OK, you soaked up your surroundings without it for a whole hour, which is better than the vast majority of us. Your post has inspired me to set aside some time this weekend – with the cardinals, squirrels, and honey locusts – on my back patio.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. dfolstad58 July 18, 2019 / 9:32 am

    Sounds like a perfect summer night. . Thanks for taking us along. Here it would be crickets not fireflies. Having a simple relaxing night is medicine for the soul.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger July 19, 2019 / 10:58 am

      I will. I like sitting out there at night, especially when it’s dark outside. I tend to do this more in autumn than in summer. But I’ll be out there a number of times over the next month too. Thanks for visiting, Becky. As always, I’m glad to hear from you.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Anonymous July 18, 2019 / 9:48 am

    I enjoyed the blog and especially the song My Prayer. You can forget about taking a picture of fireflies. Hahaha .

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Jacqui Murray July 18, 2019 / 11:02 am

    What a delightful evening. I have a deck and have never done that. I may be properly inspired now. A whole lot of birds live in the trees behind my house so I know what you mean about them going to sleep. In my case, it’s waking up. When they start their racket, I better rise.

    I think I saw the fireflies. A trick if you have an iPhone: Take the picture, go into edit, and pick the frame that shows the fireflies. I’ve done that when I need to take a picture of a blinking light. Who can push the button at the right time. Well, maybe you already knew this!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Fran Johns July 18, 2019 / 1:16 pm

    OK, I clicked on the last photo, and those are definitely fireflies. Thanks for sharing your classic appreciation-of-the-universe-from-the-back-deck story. May you never have to live behind scaffolding and mesh, as has been the case with my building for two+ lonnnnnng years; but when it came down yesterday I was appreciation-of-the-universe reborn. That sounds like a good blog idea. Will need to find a few minutes somewhere. Cheers from the left coast.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger July 18, 2019 / 4:07 pm

      Hi Fran. I’m looking forward to the story you write about your reborn appreciation! Living with scaffolding and mesh for two years is no fun at all.


  15. JT Twissel July 18, 2019 / 1:25 pm

    I felt like I was right there with you. We also have trees that block out view of the sunset but on a hot day, without those trees, we’d be like burnt toast! We have no AC.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger July 18, 2019 / 4:09 pm

      Trees are beyond amazing. I wonder when, in our planet’s history, they began to emerge.


  16. Deb July 18, 2019 / 1:34 pm

    Beer and Cheez-its, nice selection for contemplating life on the deck Neil. The sky was a lovely color.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger July 18, 2019 / 4:10 pm

      Hi Deb. I drink a fair amount of beer. And I eat a whole lot of Cheez-Its. But not very often do I have them together.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. saucysandpiper July 18, 2019 / 1:59 pm

    I miss fireflies so much. For about a decade, we had a piece of property in Woodford County, Kentucky (just down the street from where Woodford Reserve bourbon is made, among horse farms). We had a two-story deck that was right along a large creek and a bit of forest. We had so many fireflies in the summer that it looked like someone had dumped the world’s largest truckload of glitter on the forest. Every night after dinner, we’d pour a glass of wine and sit on the deck and watch the show. On cloudless nights, you could not tell where the fireflies stopped and the starry sky began. But now we’ve moved to Florida and there are rarely ever fireflies. But we get to hear the descendants of dinosaurs stopping around in the jungle, so there’s that.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger July 18, 2019 / 4:13 pm

      Hi. Many thanks for adding your thoughts. Your experiences with fireflies were fabulous. You were lucky to see incredible shows like that so often.

      Liked by 1 person

  18. Robert Parker July 18, 2019 / 3:27 pm

    Summertime, and the living is easy. Good for you, for mellowing out and actually soaking up the scene. I do see the fireflies, once I clicked to enlarge it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger July 18, 2019 / 4:14 pm

      Robert, what I did on the deck last week is something I need to do a lot more often. It’s a good way to decompress.

      Liked by 1 person

  19. viewfromoverthehill July 18, 2019 / 6:42 pm

    Love your progressive photos of night’s arrival to your back deck. I may not be into beer, but I can picture you out there feeling mellow. Enjoy each day. Muriel

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Alyson July 18, 2019 / 7:03 pm

    Twilight is my favourite time to be outside in the summer – Perfect for a spot of listening to music and watching the sky. Lovely pics.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. lexklein July 18, 2019 / 9:37 pm

    I thought I saw fireflies! (But I think it was dust on my screen …)

    Sounds like a lovely evening. I just realized after 2.5 years here in Texas that I have not seen fireflies! In PA when I was a kid, they were a nightly joy. Lucky you.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. tanjabrittonwriter July 18, 2019 / 10:12 pm

    You ought to make use of the outdoor-sitting weather more often, Neil. Summer will be over before we know it! Hope you will see more fireflies.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Ann Coleman July 18, 2019 / 10:34 pm

    Yes, nothing is quite as nice as just sitting outside on a nice summer evening, sipping a drink and just enjoying the environment around us. We should all do it a lot more often….and your post makes me want to do that, ASAP!

    Liked by 1 person

  24. cincinnatibabyhead July 18, 2019 / 11:02 pm

    Yes those are Fireflies Neil. I’m a bit of an expert on the species. I’ll see you on the weekend. I’ll hop over the fence with my cup of tea, lawn chair and a cigar (unlit unless you give me the green light. I’m happy just to savor and chew on the end) stuck in my face.
    Good tune by the way.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Cindy July 18, 2019 / 11:29 pm

    Great post, Neil. Relaxing on the deck is one of my favorite pastimes. Even here in the city, I see (and hear) bumblebees, butterflies, and many varieties of birds flitting among my flowers. At night, there’s the occasional lightning bug and, once in a while, a foraging possum or raccoon. Next time you’re on your deck on a clear night, look for Jupiter and Saturn. They’re shining brightly out there, too!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger July 19, 2019 / 7:21 am

      Yeah, the night sky can be beautiful. All those lights set against darkness. Very amazing.


  26. Anabel @ The Glasgow Gallivanter July 19, 2019 / 4:24 am

    I feel mellow and relaxed after reading this! Apologies if you know already, but you can take a “burst” by holding your finger on the iPhone camera button (depending how new it is) then select the shots that show what you want.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Des July 19, 2019 / 9:23 am

    Neil, I like the description of the sounds you heard, both natural and man-made. I’ve noticed that as well, that sometimes the mad-made and mechanical sounds can be soothing as well. Thanks for the reminder that I need to get out there more often and take advantage of the beautiful weather at night!

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Kimberly July 19, 2019 / 5:05 pm

    I enjoyed seeing blue fireflies in Florida. They’re usually only found in Carolina – we need simple moments so the little gifts don’t pass us by – great post Thank you

    Liked by 1 person

  29. Isabelle July 19, 2019 / 5:51 pm

    Sitting in the deck and enjoying the moonlight with a beer and Chezzits, how lovely it was! I couldn’t spot the dots in the first place but when I enlarged the image, I saw several of them. Fireflies no doubt! Have a great weekend! Isabelle

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger July 19, 2019 / 9:53 pm

      It’s dark outside now where I live. I was out on the deck. I saw many more fireflies last week compared to tonight. Maybe firefly season is coming to a close around here. I hope not, but likely it is. Take care, Isabelle.

      Liked by 1 person

  30. Fictionophile July 20, 2019 / 9:39 am

    Thanks for the evening deck interlude Neil. You write so eloquently I felt I was there with you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger July 20, 2019 / 11:46 am

      Hi Lynne. I was on the deck late last night. But I won’t be going out there today in sunlight: the daytime high today will be about 98 F (37 C). See you!

      Liked by 1 person

  31. another Sarah. July 20, 2019 / 9:41 am

    This was so peaceful to read. I also get some beautiful views from my home at sunset but after dark, there is too much light pollution from the street lights. Though last week, I did manage to see the partial lunar eclipse despite usually, the British weather letting us down when we need it. The idea of beer and fireflies seems so exotic, haha!

    Liked by 1 person

  32. eden baylee July 20, 2019 / 10:36 am

    Great post to lounge with, and the music is perfect. We just redid our backyard and it’s become a wonderful extension of our house. Hope to spend many lazy days outside this summer. 🙂


    Liked by 1 person

  33. johnlmalone July 20, 2019 / 5:30 pm

    there’s an Eagles’ song that goes with that: ‘Peaceful, Easy Feeling’ 🙂 have a good one, Neil 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  34. Helen Devries July 20, 2019 / 6:04 pm

    That was a great post…I felt as if I were out on your deck enjoying it all….
    We spend a lot of time out on the balcony of the house in the evenings in the dry season when the mozzies aren’t about, but this time of year we close the doors when the night falls.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger July 20, 2019 / 11:08 pm

      Hi Helen, and thanks for stopping by. The world would be a better place if mosquitoes never had come into existence.

      Liked by 1 person

  35. smilecalm July 20, 2019 / 9:42 pm

    how wonderful having
    adequate snack, beverage
    and delightful soundtrack
    for being witness
    to the universes’ play,
    without leaving
    the comfort of home 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger July 20, 2019 / 11:11 pm

      You’re right. All I had to do was get up from the sofa and walk 30 or so feet in order to get to the deck. It was easy and very worthwhile!

      Liked by 1 person

  36. Angie July 21, 2019 / 5:00 pm

    Sounds like a dreamy time. I also dont enjoy my deck like I should. Just giving up the worries and being present is so life giving! Yep Neil, Tonight I am going to join you in Spirit and take advantage of the beauty right outside my door.

    Liked by 1 person

  37. cath July 22, 2019 / 6:11 am

    I like your recipe for a wonderful evening, a good nudge to me to follow suit – though we don’t get fireflies (yes, I’ve looked at your photo, and they’re visible), we do have bats, which are always entertaining. Nice, post, Neil, and that piece of gospel was beautiful.

    Liked by 1 person

  38. janetsm July 22, 2019 / 8:23 pm

    Neil, I thoroughly enjoyed reading your account of your evening on your deck. Very relaxing to read. Oh – and those are definitely fireflies, known in North Carolina as lightning bugs. And people say God doesn’t have a sense of humor. Who else would have thought about making lightning bugs?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger July 22, 2019 / 9:44 pm

      Hi. Those insects are cool. This year is the first in many years that they’ve really captured my attention. Where you live, have they been in big numbers this summer?


  39. selizabryangmailcom July 23, 2019 / 1:55 pm

    Yes, of course those are firefly lights. Clap if you believe in fairies and fireflies.
    I believe! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger July 23, 2019 / 2:51 pm

      Hi Stacey, and thanks for stopping by. In all honesty, I think there’s a good chance that at least one or two of those dots are fireflies. See you!

      Liked by 1 person

  40. melissabluefineart July 23, 2019 / 11:52 pm

    Thanks for sharing your mellow evening with us. I often think I should just sit outside and chill, but so seldom does there seem to be time. I’m glad you found some.

    Liked by 1 person

  41. chattykerry July 24, 2019 / 2:45 pm

    Oh, I am so jealous of your fireflies! We just have dire wolf tree roaches here. The mosquitoes keep us in after dusk also. Lovely sunset. Pink sky at night; shepherd’s delight!

    Liked by 1 person

  42. Paddy Tobin July 26, 2019 / 1:39 am

    So, exactly what percentage of alcohol did that alcohol contain? To end up trying to photograph flies in the dark must, in my mind, demand a reasonable level of consumption! One could do worse after a few drinks, I suppose; I certainly have! Cheers!


    • Yeah, Another Blogger July 26, 2019 / 9:03 pm

      Hi. It is. In fact, I’m about to go out on my deck for a while (it’s about 9PM here). Take care, and thanks for adding your thoughts.


  43. veeds July 27, 2019 / 3:29 pm

    On a Word Press technical note: how did you insert the song video in your post? Maybe it’s a simple act of pasting in the URL, but I’ve never tried it. Is it easy to do?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger July 27, 2019 / 4:08 pm

      Right — I copied the song’s YouTube URL. Then I went to the WordPress story and pasted the URL into the spot where I wanted the song to appear.

      Liked by 1 person

  44. veeds July 27, 2019 / 5:02 pm

    Much obliged fellow blogger

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s