Sunday, September 20th, 2009. The equinox is just a couple days off, and another summer draws to a close.
The itinerate pond has receded sharply these last few weeks. I stand at its edge, on soft, muddy earth still head together by the dead roots of the grass that used to grow here. Waterfowl whirl around the pond – mallards, scaups, Canada geese. They glide by the bright foliage of inundated trees whose colors are more a sign of distress than of the changing season.
A garter snake wiggles away as I trudge along the water’s edge. Not the one that hung in the foliage last June – too small. But the same type of snake.
Autumn Meadowhawks are everywhere. The young ones are dull brown or dirty yellow, but some individuals have reached full maturity and have a bright red back and matching stigmata. They perch low to the ground – favoring the red leaves of fading, thorny strawberry plants, and dead coreopsis.
I have the best luck in the fields that were mowed last year, but the dragons congregate capriciously. Dozens converge on a small spot in a huge field that is otherwise empty. The spar with each other and jockey for perches, dance away from the thorny strawberry vines and snatch mosquitoes and flies out of the air.
Autumn Medowhawks, formerly known as Yellow Legged Meadowhawks… They seem to be the only dragonflies remaining; all of the others have already left. But with a little luck, they will be around for a while…