A delight of summertime is to see Dragonflies. They come in many sizes and colours. They are predators, hunting flies as they zip around in their summer mating dance. Most of their life cycle is under water, in some species for months, others it could be as long as five years. Climbing out of the water up a reed or anyother convenient growth, they moult into their impressive, often colourful, adult form, they pursue their adult purpose at speed, out helicoptering any man made flying machines with their incredible flying techniques beaten out with their twin sets of wings for their months-long adult life.
After the past days of heavy rain and with the day time temperatures falling I had not expected to see any dragonflies this past week, but this chap landed on a garden table as I was passing this morning, hoping to gain something from a brief burst of sunlight when the storm had passed.
Size varies, but is usually measured in inches. Yet there is some evidence in fossils that long ago, maybe 300 to 350 million years ago, there were huge dragonflies on earth with wingspans of thirty inches.
I like to think such giants might still lurk somewhere in the world today, in a jungle, far, far away. Or maybe closer to home!
I wrote a flash fiction piece recently, letting my imagination wander. Here it is.
Old Marcus has fished the river since he was a boy; experts and beginners alike seek out his wisdom on his home stretch of water. Day after day on afternoons he sits in his ancient canvas chair, on the river bank close by the last of the rotting timbers that had, in his father’s time, been the supports of a landing stage.
In late summer months he delights to watch dragonfly nymphs emerge from the water, climbing from their watery existence to moult into glorious aviators, sun-warmed, helicoptering over the riverbank into their brief flying lives.
Marcus blinks as something huge emerges from the water, heaving its bulk out of the river, climbing up the wreck of the old landing stage. A living thing larger than he’d ever seen emerge from the river.
As he watches the unbelievable nymph moults into the greatest dragonfly any man could witness. Sunshine warms its metallic blue body extending to the length of a walking stick, its twin pair of wings unfurling to the span of a grown man’s arms.
Hours pass before, with a wing beating purr of a tiger, the immense dragonfly lifts off from the timbers, pauses, circles round, then sweeps away from Marcus’s sight down river toward the village.
Marcus mutters in awe, ‘who will ever believe me that such a wonder exists, and on this stretch of our home water?’