Meeting at a local ski area, my friend followed me and we found our way to the boat launch located on a pond in the shadows of a certain mountain.
After riding the waves of jet skis and other boats, we paddled into quiet wetlands where stump islands radiated beauty in their death.
Not long into our journey among the slower flow of water, dragonflies became the focus, at least from my perspective, and it seemed apropos that one Slaty Blue Skimmer should serve as the helmsman of my kayak.
We moved among shadows and shallows and delighted in the sounds and sights.
Soon another mate joined the crew, this a female Frosted White-face who rested momentarily before being pursued by a suitor.
Her sweetheart sailed in and out and occasionally paused. A closer look at the underside of his abdomen showed tiny red mites found a place of their own upon which to rest.
In the midst of frequent sightings of Slaty Blues and Frosted Whitefaces, a not so Common Eastern Pondhawk in the form of a female paused, her beauty deserving celebration.
Not all celebrations needed to be about dragonflies, though I do think they are pretty darn special–if you haven’t already figured that out. Therefore, I offer you an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail feasting upon the flower of a Buttonbush, its fringe of pistils bursting forth as if part of the butterfly’s body.
When one floats nonchalantly in such a wetland, life of all forms take shape. Much of it is too difficult to classify for the scene is ever changing, but sometimes it’s subtle idiosyncrasies that make a name known. Such was the case for the male Spangled Skimmer, its black and white stigmas at the tip of the wings a certain marking known only to its species.
While we watched, a female Mallard and her young’en preened and we got to thinking–why only these two? Where was the rest of the family? Had dad taken the other kids off for a Sunday picnic while mom and runt stayed behind for a mother/junior playdate?
Eventually, we left that wetland behind and paddled on to another, discovering an active wasp nest mere feet above the water.
And then we slipped into that other wetland where layers marked the landscape.
At the base, a Pitcher Plant showing off its Tree of Life logo with red venation highlighted by green.
“Come inside,” invited the Pitcher’s leaves modified into insect traps with hairs directing the downward path.
Resist if you can, but I’m not sure how one can deny the incredible design of this most interesting plant’s leaves.
And then there’s its flower: It begins with five somewhat pointed sepals, their tips incurving. The sepals are generally tinged with dark red or red-purple on the outside and yellow on the inside that curve around a yellowish-green style, which expands into an umbrella-like structure, sometimes splashed with deep red.
In the midst of the Pitchers, Sundews and Sphagnums showed off their cherry view.
And then a beaver lodge came into view, reflecting the mountain summit behind it.
Upon closer look it became obvious that it was active and in the moment the residents perhaps took a Sunday siesta.
As we floated, so many others flew and occasionally paused including a male Eastern Pondhawk with its face so green.
Before finishing our adventure and paddling back to the boat launch, we encountered a predator feeding upon a predator, in this case a spider dining upon a clubtail dragonfly.
It was then that we realized that the quiet wetlands featuring stumps and other natural landmarks that radiated joy also knew the importance of death as a source of continuing the circle of life.
Today’s web wanderings in the shadow of one Pleasant Mountain: always a joy.