Friday, September 11, 2009

the dragons are dropping like flies

Last week Ansel and I found a deceased dragonfly who had become lethally lodged in the net of our trampoline. I felt a small wave of emotion sickness as I imagined his last moments of life, frantically flapping his two sets of wings, to no avail. I couldn't bring myself to disentangle his beautiful body from the net and asked Ansel to do the dirty work. His curious staccato attempts at pulling him free were interrupted by fearful wonderings if perhaps the dragonfly were still alive. I have never told Ansel about the ancient myth that dragonflies are the devil's darning needle and will sew closed the mouths of misbehaving children while sleeping, so I am not sure of what exactly he was afraid. It is most likely that he sensed my own(his mother, protector, and caregiver) trepidation. Eventually, the insect was set free from his bondage, though quite dismembered, and left to rest in pieces.

I thought it was a freak accident of sorts. But not long thereafter, I began finding more beautifully preserved corpses in my garage, on the driveway, and under the deck. It is the season for dragonfly migration and it is possible that this was just the end of the road for them. Dragonflies can live up to six years, but only about 2 months of this is spent in post-nymph winged freedom. Were they done living, or was it a cold change in weather that cut short their fleeting flying lives? I took advantage of the rigor mortis and engaged myself for a few long moments, studying the amazing detail in their body....the 30,000 lenses in their huge eyes (they can see 360 degrees, although not all that clearly) and the simple lines and ornamental compartmentalization in the wings that I am convinced Frank Lloyd Wright may have lifted for his window designs. I don't approve of their violent mating habits, but I suppose that if they followed an insect moral code, the species would have been wiped out years ago. 300 million year old dragonfly fossils have been found, leading me to believe that however they are birthing, living, reproducing, and dying is somehow working out very well for them.

But finding them whole and dead still made me sad for some reason. I can't stop thinking about them.

I guess it is that time of year when things die, and it is beautiful, and a little sad.


Kaerlig said...

Curious. Today at work, a fellow nurse opened up a discussion on dragonflies. They eat mainly mosquitoes he said. I said they poke holes in the heads of their mates when they hold on to them...then I read your blog post-work...more dragonfly trivia.

kate said...

ahhh...gross! we have spiders out the yazooh here, and apparently there are brown recluses too. please send yr dragon flies to eat up our spiders. in a very fairy tale world!