Close encounter

Last Sunday, for 20 David-Attenboroughesque minutes I held a dragonfly (or rather it clung to me) on my hand. I watched as this frail thing dried its wings while perched on my hand and put its trust in my clumsy human hands . It has been resting on the net over our olive tree when my hand came into its life.

It was hard to tell whether it was deliberately moving its wings to dry them, or whether just the breath of wind made them move involuntary. They fluttered like long grasses in a storm. How can wings so fragile withstand such gentle violence?

It’s stick-like abdomen was resting on the tip of my fingers, passing on the vibrations of its tiny wings. The sensation of buzzing through my fingers was the same sensation as when a purring cat rests in chin on your neck – its like communication on another plane, felt and not heard.

I’d never seen a dragonfly this close and it struck me, that although they’re not related – just how like a fly it seemed. However, flies are associated with maggots bacteria and germs and I don’t think many people remark at how beautiful they are when you get down the macro level. Yet here is a fly-like head, fly-like legs and even a fly-like face and eyes, and yet so delicate and beautiful.

I tried to convince it to move off from my fingers onto a tree, but in the end I convinced myself that it’s tiny legs clinging to my fingers were intentional. It didn’t mind spending the dragonfly equivalent of a few years in my company. Maybe it grew old in my company.

I watched as time passed by and it moved on, straight up into the air – hidden against the sky before I even had time to wave.

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