It was one of those rare days in mid-summer here in the north country. The sky was free of the clouds that seemed to linger…day after day after day. I was walking across our front deck and something caught my eye. It was a dragonfly trapped in a spider’s web.
I wrote a blog about it. In the post, I discussed my dilemma: to free the fly and possibly starve the spider or to allow the spider to devour the fly…thereby lessening the number of biting insects that would be eaten by the fly. [Go back in my older posts to see my point.]
I chose to liberate the fly. It flew away, I could imagine, feeling safe and free in its tiny fly brain.
I saw a thousand dragonflies this past summer. I tried to get close to study their amazing wings…but they flew away.
A few days ago, after we had several frosts and even a dusting or two of snow, I was standing at the railing of our back deck. I had just finished blowing off the pine needles and leaves that constantly littered the deck floor. I emptied our tomato planter (we got about 12 tasty ones, small but full of flavor that only comes from something you’ve grown yourself).
Yes, I was standing at the railing and looking up at the overcast sky. Summer had come and gone. A few leaves held onto their parent-trees…refusing to give up, drop and then to rot away into our sandy soil. A slight chill came in with the breeze that came in off the lake. The insects of the late summer had been dead for weeks due to the frost. Or so I thought.
I looked down on the 2 x 4 pine railing (stained a light-oak) and saw a survivor. Not just any survivor, but a dragonfly. It was motionless on the wood surface. I blew on it. It didn’t move. I was sure it was dead…but why did it die on my railing? And, why didn’t it get blown away by the autumn winds?
A small part of me was glad it had chosen to die (do they choose?) on my deck. Now, I could take it downstairs to my “man-cave”, pull out my binocular microscope and take time to really study the intricate and mathematically precise structure of the lattice-work of the wings. I could look closely at what I assumed was a compound eye. I could sketch it. Admire it. Study it. And marvel at it.
Just then, in the chill air of the deck, it moved! It was alive! How could this be? By all rights of nature, it should have been food by now…or lying among the rotting leaves and ferns and moss of our yard ten feet below me.
I don’t know enough about a dragonflies’ life-cycle to think that it missed the Great Migration. I don’t even know if they do migrate. I doubt it.
But there it was…on my deck. I coaxed it onto my hand. It didn’t try to fly away…just yet. I held it close to my eye. It was then that I knew that whatever happened, I was holding a dragonfly that had only hours to live. Something would get it. It couldn’t survive much longer.
I stared into its eyes. I had a thought.
Was this the fly I freed a month or two ago? Was this the offspring of the fly I liberated? How could I ever know?
But, I can say this, I had two encounters with dragonflies this summer. Hundreds that sat on my knee while I read, or sat on the lip of my glass of sun-tea. They filled the air of my deck space. And their iridescence was magnificent.
I came eye to eye with only two. There must be a connection. There has to be a connection. I want there to be a connection.
Did the fly stay around in hopes that I would find it? Did it want to thank me for saving its life? Or it’s parents’ life?
I’d like to think so. I’ll never know.
After a moment in my palm, it flew away…slowly at first…and then it vanished into the needle-covered pine trees at the edge of our property.