Back Yard Meanderings
Two years before I took this photo, our volunteer saltbushes were scrawny little shoots with an unknown pedigree ("Live oaklings?" we guessed. "Mexican tea?") Mary had flagged them with black plastic stakes so I wouldn't accidentally weed-whack them down.
Things grow very quickly in the tropics....
In our last gardening episode, our heroine (Mary) was performing brain surgery on our morphed canteloupe. And, despite its hefty layer of mold on the bottom, it has thus far yielded a cute li'l cotyledon.
We are thrilled. A couple of other cotyledons have come up from years-old seeds brought down from Boston; we'll see if anything else sprouts over the next few days. When Mary called me outside I grabbed the camera and set about hunting photo ops.
I was impressed by the way this grasshopper camouflages itself against our walkway. But what really excited me was keeping company with two lovely dragonflies, each from a different species, who stayed still long enough for me to photograph them.
This Green Clearwing hung out around the corner from the grasshopper. After checking with my field guides I finally decided it was a clearwing and not a Great Pondhawk. Not far from the grasshopper, perched on a drain pipe, was...
... a Blue Corporal dragonfly (as best I can guess).
I was highly honored that they both "posed" for me. On my post office walks I have occasionally tried to digitally capture one in flight, especially when they hover.
But they can be big teases.
Once, up in Massachusetts, I rescued a dragonfly that had fallen into a swimming pool and was too drenched to escape. I had lifted it on the back of my hand and for about the next 20 minutes watched it preen and dry its wings mere inches from my nose. Finally, when good and ready, it simply lifted off, leaving me with a peak experience to remember (and share!).
Years earlier I sat on the grass in New York, reading, when a dragonfly landed on the notebook beside me. I stopped reading and watched it, holding myself as still as possible. After a few minutes I heard a distant jet engine, growing progressively louder. As the plane passed overhead the dragonfly looked up and tracked it. I would love to know what was going on in that tiny, underestimated brain. From that day forward I never looked at dragonflies in quite the same way again.
Hurricanes Frances and Jeanne had reached us as impressive tropical storms in 2004. We had watched our saltbushes -- not nearly as tall as they are now -- bend to the ground first one way, and then the other as the storms passed. Jeanne's eye had passed over us: a magical experience in a storm that had lost most of its destructive power by the time it arrived. Even so, Jeanne's wind had left the house "freckled", blasting away 24-year-old paint. This year we had a new coat put on.