For a person, who until about 6 years ago had never really noticed even one dragonfly, I recently seem to be having beautifully close encounters with what are my favourite insects. I am generally fascinated by insects and even the ugly ones and the ones that can kill you. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not inviting cockroaches to live in my house or anything (unless they pay rent!) – but I do get excited by bugs and beetles. I’ve done the “white sheet” thing where you hang a white sheet on your clothes line at night, shine a light on it and watch the freaks arrive! It’s great fun! In fact, the only thing I haven’t done is eat one, at least, not intentionally.
I digress. I can’t remember ever noticing dragonflies in Australia, and it wasn’t until I was in the UK and found those winged dryads living in my garden, that I developed my fascination. I used to spend time trying to convince them to land on me. I must have looked dumb – holding out my hands like a would-be-landing strip. It wasn’t the most scientific excursion into dragonfly observation, but then again, I’m not a scientist (something I keep forgetting obviously).
That’s right, dragonflies and I are purely an emotional/spiritual connection. When I think of my favourite places there’s probably a dragonfly in there somewhere. By nature, I’m a symbolist (the Yeatsian in me) and the dragonfly symbol is pretty strong in my house space.
You can never have too many dragonflies I’m guessing. Do they plague? They are so short lived that I can’t imagine that. I’ve seen hundreds at a time, dizzying me as they crazied around the cool forests in the late evening sun in Tamil Nadu in India, and yet still – a single dragonfly can make me feel at the door of wonder. I step through ever time , hypnotising myself by watching sunlight sparkle on their wings – the pattern reminding me of the solar panels you see on solar garden lights.
So, longingly I hoped that we’d have a healthy population of dragonflies here, now that we’ve moved here on the hill. Of course, they are here and maybe they know I want them around. It took me 4 years in the UK to find a dragonfly at rest long enough to take a photograph, and now I have photographed four within the space of less than three months.
Not only that, but today, behind the chicken sheds, at twilight, near to the water-lilly covered dam, a newly emerged dragonfly flew past and settled on the grass by my feet when I was walking along with my camera. So delicate and so transparent – such a random meeting with a tiny frail not-yet-straight- body. All worlds came close in those moments as I watched this fleeting short life beginning.