When I was little, my Nana called them “sewing needles” for their long body shape. As kids we heard “needles” and thought “sting” so we splashed water to scare them away any time we saw them hovering around the pool.
But dragonflies don’t sting.
When my girls were little we had Judy Allen’s book Are You a Dragonfly? In our collection. I think it was with that book that my distrust of the flying sewing needles turned to love. By then I had a garden of my own that taught me to enjoy the buzz of bees and delight in the sight of worms in the dirt. Dragonflies became my late summer friends, more abundant than butterflies and, when you stopped splashing them so you could see, just as beautiful.
In my garden now, I leave the stalks of spent lilies because they turn into dragonfly flowers in August. Some afternoons you can see ten or more dragonflies perched on the top of the stalks, waiting for the hunt or basking in the sun or meeting up with a friend. The slow dance of wings as they sit could be a signal to another, or perhaps they are just stretching. They rest, fly up, then rest on another stalk. At the end of the summer, when thoughts are focused on the start of the new school year and the butterflies start fluttering through my stomach, the dragonflies are calming. Despite my neglected yet ever-growing to do list, I can sit for long stretches watching them play around the dead lilies.
This year, it seems there are not as many dragonflies. I’m worried that the same carelessness that is harming the bees in our world is getting to them. They do not appear on the endangered list for my state, but still, it’s different.
I miss them.
My Nana has been gone for 35 years but every time I see a dragonfly I think of her. And then I think of Judy Allen’s book and sitting in the garden with my little girls. They never called them sewing needles, never splashed water at them to scare them away. But when I leave the lily stalks in the garden I feel like I am connecting the thread between us all: grandmother, author, growing girls, dragonfly.
This is my Slice of Life.
|It's blurry, but there is a dragonfly on top of the lily stalk. There were 3 others in the garden.|