Robert U. Montgomery

Children

August--- My Least Favorite Month


(From
Fish, Frogs, and Fireflies--- Growing Up With Nature)

Ask me what I like about nature, and I can write a book. Ask me what I don’t like, and I need just one word: August.

Your August might not be the same as mine, especially if you live in a northern state. My August in the Missouri Ozarks is hell on earth, with no regard for the calendar. Typically it extends from the middle of July to the middle of September. But it could raise its demonic head in early July and its forked tail might not slither into fall until October.

What don’t I like about August? For starters, mosquitoes, chiggers, ticks, sweat bees, and flies. August is a banner month for them all here at my house in the woods. Only then do I barbeque before an audience of thousands, none of them human and all of them believing that I am the entrée. Only then am I crawled on, sucked on, and stung so many times that I feel them scurrying up my legs, scooting along my back, and whining in my ears --- even when they are not.
Read More…

Kids' Book Not Just For Kids!



First feedback for my new illustrated children's book, Who Let the Bugs Out?, came from four grandparents, and they all loved it!

And, no, they didn't love it because their grandchildren liked it. Their grandkids weren't around when they read it. They personally loved it!

I made the target audience for the book ages 9 to 11, believing that younger advanced readers also can enjoy it on their own. But I also suspected that grandparents who read the book to their grandchildren might like the mystery just as much as the kids because of the setting and the time, which was before cell phones and video games, when kids played outside until their parents called them in at dusk.

Meanwhile, first kid feedback was forwarded from someone who bought copies of the book for her son and his buddies. Here is what she said:

"We got them! Already sat down and read it! The kids liked it! They want to try and play 'kick the can.'"

In the book, I explained that Bobby and his friends played that game on summer evenings, as they waited for the fireflies to come out. Of course, fireflies are the "bugs" mentioned in the title of the book.

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kick the can copy

My first children's book was inspired by Fish, Frogs, and Fireflies: Growing Up With Nature, another of my books. Chasing and catching those little flashing beetles was a big part of my summer fun, as it was for many others from that more innocent time. Here's an excerpt from the chapter "Nature's Night Lights":

If you grew up in a rural area or even in a subdivision near woods, you probably chased fireflies on summer nights. It’s a tradition as uniquely American as baseball and Fourth of July picnics.

In my neighborhood, we competed. We darted about, grabbing as many of the little illuminative beetles as we could and stashing them in mayonnaise jars. Then we’d count each stash to see who caught the most, before releasing them to once again light up the night in their search for mates.

A former student of mine, Kathy Tyler Paul, told me that she and her friends used jars of lightning bugs as lanterns when they played tag. And Matt Ellis, a friend and host of the Outdoor Scoreboard podcast, said that his father fed the insects to a toad on their front porch.

“When the toad ate the fireflies, we would see them glowing in its belly,” he recalled. “That was entertainment right there, for a little kid in the country.”

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Sadly, not as many fireflies are around today as there were just a few decades ago, according to
Firefly.org, which includes both of my books in its educational presentations to kids.

“The problem is that in America and throughout the world, our open fields and forests are being paved over, and our waterways are seeing more development and noisy boat traffic,” the website explained. “As their habitat disappears under housing and commercial developments, firefly numbers dwindle. Logging, pollution, and increased use of pesticide may also contribute to destroying firefly habitat and natural prey," the website says.

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Finally, here's a little something from
Scientific American that I'll bet you didn't known about fireflies:

"Flashes are the firefly language of love. 

"Fireflies use flashes as mating signals. The flashes that you see in your yard are generally from males looking for females. They flash a specific pattern while they fly, hoping for a female reply. If a female waiting in the grass or bushes likes what she sees, she responds back with a flash of her own.
"They will engage in this twinkling 'conversation' until the male locates the female and they mate. Each species has its own pattern—a code that lets individuals identify appropriate mates of the same species."

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LINK

Here's the link to firefly.org

https://www.firefly.org/