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News and views from St. Mary's Woodbridge
Issue 3 Summer 2007

A birth of dragons

Early one June morning I took my mug of coffee outdoors. It was sunny, warm and the bees were already busy. There was dew on the roses. Everything was alive and fresh.

Then, looking over at my garden pond, I noticed something was different. Overnight, there had been a sudden blossoming. Many of the emergent plants were lit as if by small miniature bulbs or fairy lights just above the water. Each sunlit bulb had a pair of eyes and thin legs, six to be precise, which held on tight. They were papery thin and empty. There was a gap behind each head as if something had left not long ago. These conical looking bulbs, as I called them, appeared to have climbed out of the water, given birth to themselves quite literally and the contents flown away. Not only had they achieved this remarkable resurrection but they had done it all together, a synchronous emergence to a new life.

Where had they gone, these dragonflies? I felt slightly cheated. An hour or so earlier, at dawn, I might have seen them lift themselves out of their old world, expand their wings in the first rays of the sun, then make their maiden flight. But now, nothing was left except their past, their previous lives left as skins. Yet these skins too were transformed into reflected lights and in my heart, strangely enough, for they were evidence of progeny from my pond, born from what I had made a year or so before: dug out, lined, then filled with water adding plants from a friends pond.

Discovery is part of the process of seeing and witnessing nature and the delight doesnt happen all at once. We can be teased along, so to speak, by events that each take us by surprise. No, I didnt see the dragonflies themselves on that occasion; if I had, would I have wondered at their sunlit empty bulbs in quite the same way? But a week later a beautiful Blue Emperor dragonfly flew repeatedly over my pond.