The surf is still wild here, the after affects of the storms that have been pounding us. I couldn't resist some play time in the surf, and evidently neither could a large dragonfly I spotted at the edge of the waves--with unfortunate results. He was lying upside down, his four wings plastered against the wet sand. I picked him up, and folded him into my towel to take him home, where I thought I would put him in a bowl where I keep other unfortunates: a butterfly frozen in flight, somehow, years ago, some shells, and a few bits of old porcelain, covered with the faded tracery of a flowering vine. On the way home, I found a gorgeous bird's nest made almost entirely of mud--looking much like a pot that was ready to go into a kiln. Quite a haul for the day.

I put the dragonfly on a plate in the kitchen so I could examine him more closely--and then he was forgotten for a few hours. When I looked again, grains of sand had fallen off the wings, which were drying. I decided to make the transfer to the display bowl, but when I  tried to pick him up, his wings began to flutter. I don't know who was the more surprised. I had given him up for dead. But he had not given up: a tiny, glittering miracle of an effort.


cathleen said...

The photo you took is quite stunning. The pattern in his wings is exquisite. I am so glad he is alive!

c said...

sometimes, the smallest of thoughtful gestures have the most unintended (positive) consequences.

Respect for Nature ... thanks D!

Tricia Rose said...

What do you offer a lazurus dragonfly - nectar? dew?

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

Such hope in this post.
It glistens.

Ailsa said...

"a tiny, glittering miracle of an effort"

Beautiful words. This is why I cannot have a swimming pool; too many casualties.

I am reading your book "Slow Love" and savouring it slowly. Thank you.

Karena said...

How touching Dominique... a beauty of nature to behold!

Art by Karena

barbara said...

What a great story! I would've been shocked, which I'm sure you were as well. Sadly, the dragonfly we recently had on our porch at the beach did not have the same result. Our crazy puppy stalked it and then ate it! I tried to stop the carnage, but to no avail. I hope Buddy won't endure bad karma because of his discretion.
Thanks for the post!

Julianne Fuchs-Musgrave said...

Many years ago, a musician/writer friend was walking the streets of Tokyo when he noticed a dragonfly right in front of his face. He stopped to watch and enjoy. By stopping he missed being crushed by a piece of construction that fell from the rooftop of the building he was passing. My friend who was a renowned science writer had no doubts about the gift from the dragonfly.
More recently, in a period of self-doubt, I received an email announcing a show from another friend, an artist I hadn't heard from in ages. Below the announcement was this:
The main symbolisms of the Tutubi (Tagalog for Dragonfly) are renewal, positive force and the power of life in general. Dragonflies can also be a symbol of the sense of self that comes with maturity. Also, as a creature of the wind, the dragonfly frequently represents change. And as a dragonfly lives a short life, it knows it must live its life to the fullest with the short time it has - which is a lesson for all of us.
I happened to see this friend yesterday, and opened my email this morning to see your post & photo.

Apparently, if we are open, we are all Tutubi's

NancyB said...

Thank you for the lovely story. I love how the creatures around us keep showing us how to live. I find 'stink bugs' all round the house now as they look for warmth. I taught my 3 year old grandson how to carefully carry one outside and let it go. He'll probably find his way back in tomorrow.

david terry said...

Dear Ms. Browning, Do you know of David Sedaris's essay "The Youth in Asia" (and, yes, the title's a play on "euthanasia")?

There's a wonderful passage in which Sedaris's resolutely not-"nice" (in the Southern sense of the term) mother, having noticed that one of their dog's newborn puppies seems to have died, "arranged the puppy in a casserole dish and popped it into the oven, like the witch in Hansel and Gretel.".

"Oh, keep your shirts on,' she said. "It's only set on two hundred. I'm not BAKING anyone, this is just to keep him warm."

Followed by:

"The heat revived the sick puppy and left us believing that our mother was capable of resurrecting the dead."

A paragraph later, we learn that when the aged, foully decrepit female collie of the house finally "...collapsed in the ravine beside our house, we reevaluated our mother's healing powers. The entire animal kingdom was beyond her scope; apparently she could resurrect only the cute dead."

And as long as we're all on resurrection stories?....

I could tell you the details of the day when some of the dimmer boys on my soccer team (I was teaching at a boarding school by the rural shores of Lake Michigan....the same skool which, in fact, produced our current Chief Justice) found a "dead" osprey on the ice. As I was later told, they scooped it up with a snow shovel and put it in the bath-tub of Mr. Terry's ground-floor campus apartment.

"Why?" you might reasonably ask (as I did). Because Mr. Terry "knew" about birds, according to these boys. After all, I DID have a bird-feeder, right?....

I came in from practice that snowy afternoon, stripped off my sweaty clothes, and stepped naked into a small room...where I immediately encountered a very large raptor, with claws the size of my entire hand, that began flapping its one unbroken wing and screaming at me from the bathtub.

I kid you not.

I spent the remainder of that afternoon and a large portion of the evening on the telephone... trying to find SOMEone who would get that damn bird out of my bath-tub. At the time (1985, I think), ospreys were still on some sort of endangered or protected species list, and the only help I got from various agencies (state and local) were variations on "You can't KEEP an osprey! How dare you! Don't you know this is highly illlegal?!?!?!?!"...as I kept trying to explain that I hadn't "gotten" it, didn't "want" it...and could someone just be a friend and get this damn bird out of my bathroom?.....

Eventually, someone took the thing away and put it in a raptor-recovery facility. I'm afraid that I never made a point of paying a hospital call on it.

In any case, I envy (for several reason) your dragonfly experience.

Level Best as Ever,

David Terry

melissa said...

There's nothing that compares to the treasures we find in nature - especially since most finds require that we pay attention to the smallest details. I would venture there is wonderful karma associated with a dragonfly rescue!

mary said...

What a blessing to be able to share life with another being. I have had similar experiences with insects that appear not to be able to survive--truly an experience of oneness.

pve design said...

valiant dragonfly- I painted some years ago for a client in a kitchen and they still are alive on the walls. I want to paint this one....love the image and your words.

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