Take time to watch the dragonflies

They say, “Take time to smell the roses.” But frankly, I don’t recall ever finding the smell of roses all that special. My parents had a rosebush in their front yard, but what I remember most about it from my early childhood were the shiny copper and green Japanese beetles that crawled all over it. The flowers were far less interesting, though I suppose that could be in part because the Japanese beetles were getting the upper hand (or should it be upper maxilla?), and I don’t remember the rosebush at all from my later childhood.

The one flower aroma that I have generally found appealing is honeysuckle. At about the same age when I enjoyed watching Japanese beetles, I learned from my older sister how to eat the nectar from honeysuckle, which also grew in the front yard. I don’t remember what I used to think of the aroma of other flowers, but since an odd sickness several years ago that made me nauseous when I encountered any strong smell, even those I used to find pleasant, most of them I now find nauseating, unless the odor is very faint. (I hold my breath when walking past flower displays in the supermarket the week leading up to Mother’s Day.)

So I have no interest in taking time to smell roses, and I don’t linger to smell the honeysuckle. But I have always enjoyed spending time in nature, and this weekend I had the luxury of wandering around outside the bed-and-breakfast where my husband and I stayed as part of our vacation (also a belated 30th wedding anniversary getaway). This is rural Iowa, so the property is surrounded on at least two sides by cornfields (which I find quite nice-looking – I even took a few pictures, since I rarely have the chance to walk right up to a farmer’s field). But there is also a large pond in front of the house, and I sat there for quite a while enjoying the quiet, the solitude, and watching the birds and dragonflies darting around.

When I was in about fifth grade, I spent a week one summer trying to catch insects, as a participant in an educational program run by the local parks and recreation department. The dragonflies were particularly difficult to catch, as they zipped around so fast, rarely landed, and had such a wide wingspan that it was hard to bring down the net in such a way that the dragonfly was trapped without its wings being damaged by the rim of the net. After injuring on dragonfly’s wings, I gave up and settled for watching them. (My interest in catching insects of any kind vanished the following week, when I opened the shoe box where I had been keeping my collection and found one insect, apparently not fully killed by its time in the instructor’s killing jar, vainly trying to get off the pin that secured it to the cardboard.)

Now I am happy to merely enjoy the beauty of nature without trying to capture it except with my camera. And I know that my pictures never do justice to the scene I appreciated in person. My picture of the pond does show the reflections in the water, and even the different textures of the water’s surface in two different parts of the pond, but the oddly angled shape which I know to be a bird in flight shows none of the grace of the actual bird in motion. Nor does it convey the sense of tranquility of the place or the vibrancy of the flapping, flashing, flitting creatures I watched.

Still, I couldn’t resist the challenge of trying to get some pictures of the dragonflies. After watching them zip about for awhile, I walked over to where they seemed to stop most often and started snapping pictures. Thanks to the zoom feature of my camera, I have a few decent close-ups. They capture only a tiny glimpse of the beauty I enjoyed, but even that glimpse can remind me to stop more often and watch the dragonflies.

Dragonfly on reed

Dragonfly on leaf

Three dragonflies (one on right is flying and is blurry)

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