I always wanted to be a movie star, albeit, one who didn’t have to perform in front of anyone. And recently Lake Region Television gave me that opportunity when they asked me to share some posts from wondermyway.com. And so, here is a link to the video. It’s only seven minutes long; I still have eight minutes of fame left to acquire. Turn down the sound so I don’t put you to sleep and just enjoy the photos. If are a regular follower, you should recognize all of them. Here’s the link: https://vimeo.com/372926008
My gaze turns upward to take in your mighty presence as you reach out and shake hands with each other.
Your crown tells the story of your true nature, ever graceful as it is, and decorated with daintily dangling needles, which spell your name much like my fingers of five: W-H-I-T-E.
In maturity you form furrows of stacked outer layers and I wonder about your age. Within those furrows, others, like a Stink Bug, take refuge from the world, especially as raindrops fall.
Though considered dead cells, your skin protects life within, where phloem and xylem work like dumb waiters. The former transports sugars created by photosynthesis from your needles to feed branches, trunk and roots, while the latter pulls water and dissolved nutrients from your roots for nourishment.
I have this and so many other reasons to revere you. Today, I focus on the decorations you perhaps unknowingly encourage by providing a scaffolding upon which they may grow. Mosses and lichens first take advantage. of your hospitality.
And they in turn, offer places for others to gather. As I peek, I notice tiny flies of a robotic style seeking each other. The seeker advancing upon a fruticose form, while the seekee waits on a foliose lichen.
Upon another, a tiny cocoon, once the snug home for the larval form of a Pine Sawfly. Its opened cap indicates the transformation of another generation.
There were others who once considered your trees their own. A spider web woven during warmer months, gathered raindrops today that highlighted the 3-D artwork of its creator.
Not to go unnoticed were the fruiting structures of lichens, such as a crustose with its thick, warty, grayish crust topped by numerous jam tart fruits.
But my favorite find on this soaking wet day was caused by a chemical interaction that resembles the creation of soap.
During a heavy rain, water running down your trunk picks up oils. Air in the bark furrows bubbles through the oily film and produces froth. It’s a tapestry-forming froth and within some bubbles, surrounding trees pronounced their silhouettes.
Oh Pinus strobus. Some know you as “The Tree of Peace.” I know you as “The Tree of Protection, and Life, and Color.” And then I realize that is Peace. Thank you for all that you do, naturally.
Today was the day that in your nymph stage, you chose to emerge from your underground burrow where the sap of plant roots had sustained you for several years.
While I walked about and noticed other forms of life taking place within the fenced land,
such as Robberflies canoodling in their tail-to-tail fashion,
and a Chipmunk who made me think the dead were walking until I saw it checking on me,
I also spotted the larval skins left behind by many of your kin
who had chosen
a nearby tree trunk
and surrounding ground
for such a transformation.
Their thickened legs spoke of the digging your species endures while in that subterranean habitat.
You, however, preferred your stone for metamorphosis.
Ever so slowly through a split along your back,
your body, pale-colored at first, extended outward.
Large and chunky with bulbous, yet beady eyes,
and long, thick-veined and translucent wings,
you looked like something out of a sci-fi movie.
Hues of salmon. pale green. and aquamarine.
At first your coloration reminded me of a pastel painting,
but over time it became apparent that your palette changed with maturity
and eventually looked more like a camouflaged adult who will spend time in the nearby tree.
Left behind was an empty shell of your former self.
Our time together came to an end after periodic checks over the course of three hours. I suspect by now you’ve flown to a tree in search of a mate. The resulting eggs will be laid on a branch, and your story will come to an end once again, Mr. Charles. But never fear, for the next generation will carry on the circle of life as the larvae hatch and fall to the ground, where they’ll burrow into the earth beneath or somewhere very near your resting place before resurfacing as young nymphs ready as you were to burst forth from their exoskeletons three years from now.
Thank you for allowing me to watch on this day as you shared the secrets of a Cicada’s life while I wandered among the dead
Maybe it was because I intended to read “Emergence,” a poem I wrote in honor of dragonflies at a local poetry reading, or maybe it was just because, but for the first time this summer, a Slaty Blue Skimmer landed on my shirt as I stood waiting for others to arrive at a trailhead on Tuesday. I placed my pointer finger in front of the insect and it slowly climbed aboard.
That’s not so unusual, but what struck me was that I was able to walk to my truck and grab my camera, use my left hand to take a photo as he remained on my right hand, and show him off to my friends–for at least fifteen minutes.
Of course, then I was hooked and so after returning to camp and taking a dip, I felt a familiar tickling on my toes as I sat on a lounge chair. The minute I moved, my friend moved, but only as far as the dock ladder. And so, I ran inside, grabbed my camera, and sure enough . . . he was either still there or had returned from a brief flight during my absence. Dragonflies do that–return over an over again to favorite perches in their territories.
I figured I might as well try again, but this time smartened up and used my left pointer, the easier to manage the camera with my right hand.
Ever so gently, he climbed onto it. Notice how you can see him using all three pairs of legs, well on one side anyway? They offered me a lesson.
For you see, I became aware that once he was settled on me or a leaf or twig, he pulled first one and then the other front leg up, rather like the draw-back position in karate, where you make a fist and pull your arm into your body. (I only know this because years ago our youngest took karate lessons until he was just shy of a black belt.)
What Slaty Blue (SBD) taught me was that he could stand on two pairs of legs and pull the front pair up, only using it when necessary to climb upon something or capture a meal.
My dragonfly and I . . . we spent a lot of time together. Even if he needed to fly off and twirl about in the air with a rival, or catch a delectable snack, he kept returning to my finger.
And if not my finger, then the top of a dock post. Those eyes–so brown. That face–so black.
And then there were the wings. Translucent and delicate with thin black veins. By spending so much time with SBD, I also noticed that a bit of the slaty blue coloration radiated from his body outward, as if that was his basal wing patch.
If you look at a Calico Pennant dragonfly, you’ll really understand the basal wing patch, that section of stained glass on the wing closest to its body.
I loved noticing that bit of coloration, but it’s the mechanics of it all that always astonishes me. How can an insect with such a chunky body fly with such thin wings?
The other thing about the wings is that they helped me with identification. Oh, not to say that this was a Slaty Blue for his coloring gave that away. But which SBD was I holding? My friend had a tatter on both hind wings. The one on the left was about a vein cell wide and the one on the right looked like a small chunk had been taken out of it. What happened? Prey or a run in with a plant or twig? I’ll never know, but I will know by those injuries that he was the one that liked to land on me.
Another, who was actually a rival, and perhaps a sibling, or at least a cousin, had a tattered forewing that looked a wee bit worse.
And then there was one I spied while kayaking yesterday and he had a pine needle stuck through his abdomen. What? But there it was and each time he moved, I could easily locate him.
On the same kayak adventure, an SBD landed upon a Pickerel Weed and as I watched . . .
he arched his back in a pose that reminded me of two things: 1. a move I’d learned yesterday morning during a Yoga in the Woods walk offered by Deb Nelson of the Greater Lovell Land Trust, and 2. His mating position. Was he in practice?
Would he find a she? She is so different. Her wings astound me the most.
My experience has been that there are more hes than shes so the guys better make their moves.
If you haven’t already figured it out, I’m in love with all dragonflies, but the male SBD is one of my favorites because his eyes remind me of my guy’s. And today, August 4, we are celebrating our 29th anniversary. So this post is in honor of my guy (even though he never reads these because he feels like he’s already lived them). May our journey together continued to be wonder-filled.
Oh dragonfly, oh dragonfly In your infancy, you laboriously climbed upon a slender stem. Ever so slowly seams split. Soft and squishy, you spilled forth into this sunlit world. Perched upon your former self, wispy strings recalled aquatic breaths. Moments slipped into an hour. Your body of velvet pulsed as blood pumped into cloudy wings. Standing guard watching you, I noted preparations for first flight. Eyes bulging you chose a spot of viewpoint vantage. Colors changing, you gained the markings of generations past. Wings drying you offered a reflection of stained glass. Beyond understanding you flew a dance of darting restlessness.
Odonata, Odonata, You have known both worlds. First playing beneath the surface. Then in a manner so brave, climbing skyward to ride summer’s breeze on gossamer wings. Forever in awe of your transformation from aquatic nymph to winged adult, I can only imagine the wonder of emergence.
With a mission to check upon a heron rookery, I invited a friend to join me.
The young’uns sat upon their nests of sticks waiting for the next meal to arrive.
With the flap of wings slowed in rhythm, landing gear was extended in the form of long legs and feet. Within minutes, a meal of fish was regurgitated and passed from parent to child.
Because of our location beside a slow-flowing river, many other sights caught our attention. But it was one with a penchant for moisture who stood as tall as my chin that garnered the most attention.
I've oft relished its pleated leaves of green, their manner that of the lily family.
In a clasping formation, they attach to the main stem, spirally arranged from bottom to top.
I've seen the plant often in its leafy rendition, but today was the first time its star-shaped flowers atop the plant revealed themselves. With petals and sepals combined as tepals, my friend noted their resemblance to the leaves below.
The more we looked, the more we realized there were others who also revered such a unique structure, in particular the nectar-producing glands at each flower's base. The plant took advantage, or so it seemed, of allowing those who ventured into its sweetness with a dash, or perhaps a dollop, of pollen to pass on for future reference.
Because of its location in the moist habitat, insects formerly aquatic, such as the Alderfly, did walk with sluggish movements.
Up its stout stalk one rose, the fuzzy structure perhaps providing it texture upon which to climb. Did it seek the bright yellow anthers? Or the nectar below?
With wings delicately veined and folded over like a tent, the Alderfly paused and hardly pondered its next move.
The flower mattered not for this weak flyer.
At last it reached the tip of the long, upright inflorescence, conical in form, and I wondered: would it pierce the unopened flowers for a bit of nutrition? Perhaps not, for adults of this species have a need more important than eating. Theirs is to mate, particularly at night. Maybe it was a he, looking for a sight to meet a she.
As it turned out, not all who had canoodling on their minds could wait until the day darkened to night.
Meanwhile, there were others who sought the sweet satisfaction of nectar for their needs.
And in the process of seeking, tads of pollen decorated their backs, in this case where X marks the spot.
It was a place for many to gather and garner including Lady Beetles of many colors.
And upon those pleated leaves, were Mayflies who had lived out their short lives, and Craneflies taking a break, while showing off their wings reminiscent of stained glass.
After such an up-close greeting of the delicate flowers, and recognizing for the first time their immense splendor, June 15 will forevermore be the day to celebrate False Hellebore.