I was at a lake this past week vacationing with my family. My grandparents had a cottage there and we spent many idyllic weeks during the endless summers of childhood. They had to sell it when I was in college, and I never quite recovered from its loss, even though as an adult I now fully understand the care-taking that went into my “easy” childhood memories. But several years ago, my sister found an excellent substitute, a rental cottage not far from the one we had. So now we get a double pleasure – reliving our childhood memories unsullied by the burdens of cottage ownership, and we get to stalk the old place under the acceptable guise of taking a leisurely boat ride. Ha! Suckers. So far I can report that the place looks moderately unkempt, which only fuels our misbegotten fantasies to buy it back.
One of our many memories of the camp were of the dragonflies and what my grandmother called sewing needles – those smaller dragonfly-like insects, but way prettier– in blues, yellows, reds, and greens. My sister and I were swimming at the rental place and saw a number of them and of course we started reminiscing about them. They used to land on my grandmother’s bathing cap the one time per year we could beg and cajole her into going swimming. Her cap had the rubber flower petals on it too, which we were convinced lured the insects to her. When she finally did get in the water, we were so excited, you’d think we’d gotten permission to eat ice cream for all three meals. The only thing more magical was seeing the dragonflies and sewing needles land on her head. Thinking about that, I lifted my fingers out of the water and said I wished they would land on me.
And one did. A beauty with black thick and electric blue thin stripes alternating down its body. My sister and I marveled and looked it over closely, taking advantage of the small miracle on my finger. Finally I had to move and it flew away. We sighed, but felt we had appreciated the moment. A short time later I was sitting on a float on the water and another one landed on me. Then a frisky pair – the male using grippers on the end of his tail to hold on to the top of the female’s abdomen. Then another frisky pair landed in a similar embrace. Then the single one started to interrupt the pairs. I had a full-scale dragonfly orgy riot unfolding on me. Suddenly that “magical” moment with nature was becoming annoying. But it didn’t end there. A single one landed on me, curved its tail, and began to insert its gripper into my bathing suit at steady intervals. My sister and I looked at each other mystified. Was it trying to lay eggs? We couldn’t see that it was leaving anything behind, but wouldn’t the eggs be super small? We started to joke about the gestation of sewing needle eggs and that I’d be giving birth to babies when I got home from vacation. We watched for a while, fascinated once again. Then we wondered if it were an adolescent, practicing his gripping moves for the ladies. My sister swam up close, but the sewing needle just kept going about its business. She was even able to touch it and it just stayed focused on giving my bathing suit the once over. Then, fickle, impatient humans that we are, annoyance set in again. Nature is all wonder and miracle until you can’t get rid of it. My sister splashed and I tried to dunk it to no avail. I know women hit their sexual peak in their 50s and I will be hitting that magic mark in a few days, but this was ridiculous. Finally the sewing needle flew off, whether due to our efforts or its job was done remains unclear.
Back on shore, my sister looked them up, and they are officially called damselflies. When they are full on mating they bend their tails and link to each other to form a heart, so the ones landing on me were apparently just making out. They seem to have a complicated mating ritual, not unlike a certain species I know. We weren’t able to figure out what the one poking me was doing. It’s probably best that we don’t know. At least it made me realize to treat my sexual magnetism with caution and respect – if I make the damselflies crazy, what hope do poor humans have in resisting me? That is of course unless I become stuck at home with a brood (flock? herd?) of damselflies. I’ll keep you posted.
Photo credit: Wikipedia