For several months I’ve watched you, always with awe, emerging from your aquatic form and miraculously transforming into a flying insect that eats nothing but other insects while combing woodland gaps.
Reaching maturity, you find your way back to the water’s edge and hunt for a mate. Some say you aren’t territorial but I know otherwise for I spend hours observing as you land upon a leaf or twig and then , , , in a split second chase a sibling or cousin off before returning to your original perch or at least another close by.
It’s in those spots that I get to know you better, noticing your tan-colored legs, which set you apart from other Skimmer family members.
With a face of burgundy red providing a contrast to that ruby red abdomen. and your stigma, those elongated spots at the tip of your wings, offering two-toned hues of the same theme, you gleam like a jewel in the sunlight.
At long last, you find yourself In the canoodle wheel, a dragonfly’s lovemaking form.
You grasp your betrothed behind her head while she places the tip of her abdomen under yours in a manner that allows your sperm to fertilize her eggs.
You, like your relatives, stay with her in tandem making sure it is the eggs you fertilized that she lays upon the mosses and other vegetation at the water’s edge.
Sometimes its a group activity with safety found in numbers I suppose. Eating and mating, your life as a mature being isn’t long. But still you live longer than most and don’t let a few frosty nights end your flight.
Sometimes, though, a wrong turn on the wing and you end up on the water’s surface struggling to fly free. I watch for a few moments until I realize what your frenzied behavior means. It is then I grasp a stick and offer it to you.
You follow suit and grasp from the other end as I lift you out and find a sunny place for your wings to dry before night sets in.
When I visit again I cannot find you but can only hope that the tiny red dragonfly that poses like a brooch on my blaze orange vest . . .
and then adorns my finger is you . . . or at least another saying thank you for the rescue.
On this fourth day of November, I celebrate you, ‘Autumn Meadowhawk (Sympetrum vicinum) for you are indeed a gem-like wonder.