I sat on the banks of the small lake, hypnotised by the flicker of sunlight on the duck-waves that broke the glassy surface. In the heat of this new summer’s day nothing stirred, even the birds were taking respite in the cool shade of the nearby oakwood. This was dragon weather, and I knew that if I held my space and waited they’d come and visit me.
As I gazed out over the rippling blues and greens of the lakeside I caught sight of a stirring in the reeds. A rift in this reality, the dragon thread-needled it’s way through the heavy air, stitching zigzags of emerald and topaz in it’s wake.
Memories of similar dazzling displays came home to me, times when dragonfly had things to tell Nicola and I as we quested amongst nature for direction and nurture. Beyond their beauty and beastliness are hidden secrets of the ages, words and visions of prehistory that can guide our paths today. Signposts to what once was, and what can be.
Shedding their Skin
Like many of us they too have spent most of their lives wallowing in the dark mud of growth, occasionally coming to the surface for air. They hatched from their eggs into a different world from what they know now. As nymphs the dragonflies lived in the detritus of their world, wandering and waiting in pond bottoms, snatching what food they could and unpeeling the layers of skin that no longer serve their needs.
Today they fly. In the heat of this summer they emerge from the mud, stretch their wings and sense their new colours brightening in the morning dew. This summer is the rest of their life and they’ll spend it flying, chasing, making love, being the best flying creatures they can be.
They flew in this way 300 million years ago and were very much the same as they are now. In fact, as far as we can tell, they only had one change to undergo. 250 million years ago dragonflies developed a notch in their wings which helped prevent damage when they coupled. Other than that they are just the same now as they’ve always been and they are the only creatures that can make that claim.
Evolution left them alone. They were perfect for what they were. Today they are just as perfect. They scramble about in the mud for most of their lives, shed layers and layers as they mature until finally, one day they emerge as the bright beings they truly are. Their maiden flight is momentous. They reach great heights and soar to the tree tops before swooping through the meadows and riverbanks in great bejewelled performances.
Can you hear the message of dragonfly here? What do you hear? Words of emergence, tenacity, endurance, longevity and growth maybe?
Nature has so much to say. All we need do is learn how to listen.