Diamonds in the Sky

My memories of that holiday are sketchy. It was a time of simple pleasures: listening to the World Cup on Italian radio, and laughing as we tried to translate beyond “Beckham, Beckham. Gola, Gola!”; the neighbouring dog who came to visit every time we lit the barbeque; waiting on the deserted rural platform for the train to Pisa that never came; chocolate ice cream fit for the gods, homemade in the restaurant down the road.

The cottage lay below the road, completely enclosed within a grove of willow and luxuriant bamboo. A stream flowed through the garden, on its way between the mountains to the east and the Ligurian Sea to the west. I remember that it was very hot, and the large flat rocks in the middle of the stream served as a perfect place to sit and dangle our feet in the cool, clear water. I can’t even remember the name of the village or find it on a map of the Appenines.

But one night will remain vividly in my memory forever.

The air was still, hot and humid, the stream merely serving to enhance the humidity. We returned from our late evening walk, planning to sit by the water with a glass of wine and simply enjoy the stillness and heat of the night. Nothing could have prepared us for the sight that met our eyes as we opened the gate. The air was full of flashing pin-pricks of light, diamonds silently sparkling in the still, heavy atmosphere. We felt we should be able to reach out and touch them but they proved elusive, appearing here one second and disappearing there the next. We had never seen anything like this before, and it was a few moments before we realised what they were – hundreds and hundreds of fireflies.

We sat mesmerised until the early hours not wanting to break the spell by moving. But, finally, sleep took over and we reluctantly moved

Of course there was no sign next morning and we never saw them again.

H Amos

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