This past week, between a number of meaningful and exciting and thought-provoking social interactions, I’ve pecked away at what might become the introduction to my dragonfly book. I’d been working to describe an Verigated Meadowhawk’s emergence after spending from its nymph case. (Dragonflies have ‘incomplete metamorphosis’, going from egg to nymph directly to adult—no pupae, as butterflies do, for example.) I’ve witnessed different stages of this in nature and watched completely on YouTube. Synchronistically, while visiting dear friends whose yard and pond is a dragonfly haven, I saw the newly born adult near an empty case, there on a vertical stone wall. (The dragonfly in the photo isn’t a Verigated, but a Band-Winged, which I’ve not seen before. Twelve spotted Simmers, Great Mossy Darners, fluttered among the Meadowhawks. I read that spiders soon inhabit empty nymph cases.) Here’s what I’ve written so far. (As nearly as I can tell from the colors, the young meadowhawk was male.)
“As if dead, the Meadowhawk nymph had hung motionless for hours from the sedge, when his abdomen began vibrating, then pulsed, then waved with new life. No longer able to withstand the growing pressure, his back split open, his still forming body oozing through the slit. Bowing his back, he freed new dragonfly eyes from behind the shell-like protection of his nymph eyes. Bending more his head popped from its case, and he stared skyward. Then two legs flicked free, rising as if in prayer, pawing the air. Then two more and two more. Next, wing nubs like leaf buds came through the opening, stuck to his new sides. Like yoga, as he bent gracefully back, his abdomen began slipping wet from its casing. There he hung, upside down, faint, between worlds. Angelic. After for an hour he lunged forward grabbing his now empty casing with his new legs and flicked his abdomen free. Perched on his now empty case, his wing nubs grew, inflating and unfolding as internal fluids flowed through the networked wing-veins. His abdomen lengthened, straightened, then firmed. His colors deepened, wings stiffened. Then he rested, complete. After ten minutes, he tested his firm, dry wings, quivered, and flew”.