Thursday, October 9, 2008

Day 68: What are you going to do about... dragonflies?

Most insects live horrid little lives, and their deaths can't come soon enough. At every stage of their existence there are angels yearning to extend this mercy to them: frogs, swallows, even other insects. Dragonflies.

Dragonflies are different. So wise, so caring, and every once in a while they get caught on the surface of the water. When this happens I always try to scoop them up and give them a chance to dry off.

I saw one struggling hard, and it was so large I thought I might need a larger paddle to scoop him up. Somehow he held on to it without breaking it, and I flopped him down on the solar panel, he flapping those soaked wings like he was crazy. That's right, man, rage, rage against the dying of the light.

He analyzed the situation and realized he was no longer in immediate danger. Out of the water, and I had no appetite for insects. He stopped flopping around and looked at me with his face, all eyes. I looked back and saw the four worst wings ever. One was frayed nearly in half, another open in a hole. The third was crinkled horribly, and the last one shared all the problems of the other four.

He groomed himself with a foreleg. I knew nothing in my medical kit was likely to help. To every thing there is a season, friend. A time to live, a time to die. It almost seemed better to cast him back into the water, but I thought I would let him taste a few last minutes of life.

Besides, it is a nice and strange thing to float down the river with company, even if they are incapable of speaking back. The Assiniboine was filling out nicely, growing in width, growing in trees.

The dragonfly launched himself off the boat. He wobbledup and down but made a sure line to shore. I was shocked. He had only dried for a couple of minutes and I couldn't imagine those four wings keeping anything in the air, especially one as large as he was. I guess the control systems are more important than the surfaces.

Later that night I watched a female go down on the surface of the water, to fetch food or drink, but she was drawn in and thrashed on the surface. She wouldn't let herself be scooped by the paddle and so I had to grab her by hand. She was smaller, brown and yellow compared to the flashy blue and black coloring of the males. Her wings were intricate, like new.

She never calmed down in my presence and took off far too soon, for she immediately hit the water again. I paddled back, let her climb up on my hand, and this time she made it to shore.

Day 68 ended: 49*54.327N, 100*50.848W

1 comment:

John said...

"What are you going to do about...children?" - The Simpsons, channeling Kevin

"Will somebody think of the dragonflies?!"-Kevin, channeling the Simpsons