I’ve decided to take this blog back to it’s origins: show and tell. So, what’s captured my interest this week? Dragonflies, for one thing. And how could they not, since a particularly large variety has been gathering in great numbers along the shores of Lake Michigan for the past few days. I take this as a good sign, given the even greater numbers of mosquitos that have gathered in the same areas this summer.

I first sighted the dragonflies out the window while I consumed my lunch. The breakroom at work is tiny, but two of the walls are floor-to ceiling windows. As you might imagine, this room can become a bit stuffy in the summer. It’s worth it, though, for the views. The ever shifting lake spreads out before me as I eat my daily leftovers. Some days, it’s colored with the foreboding grays and browns of a highland loch. Other days, it sings with turquoise and a near Bahamian blue, as if doing its best impression of those faraway waters. And other days, the waters are pale and misty, fading off before reaching any visible horizon into the equally pale and misty sky. On the clearest of days, the silhouettes of the Chicago skyline are just visible in the far distance. Other days, hawks or even turkey vultures soar by looking for their next meal. And a few days ago, the dragonflies arrived.

Dragonflies origins stretch back beyond those of the dinosaurs by 100 million years or more. Perhaps it is this ancient origin that gives them the aspect that frightens children. When a dragonfly flew by my 4-year old the other day, he screamed in fear that it would bite him. Every region seems to have tales about them: They’ll stitch shut your mouth if you swear, lie or curse. They’ll poke out or stitch shut your eyes. They’ll poke out your ear drums. Are you catching a theme here? Sometiems, it is believed that devils or hobgoblins use them, as steeds, as balance weights, even as awls. Perhaps strangest of all is the belief that they follow injured snakes and stitch up their wounds.

Looking out of the breakroom window, I watched their mesmerizing, chaotic dance. As far as I could look to the north and south, I could see them. They zipped around in a vast cloud that reached from the ground to a spot well above my 4th floor perch. In my imaginings, they took on the aspect of a vast (and poorly organized) helicopter air force. Perhaps they hoped to take back the land that they had lost to the vertebrates so long ago. Whatever their sinister plans, they didn’t seem interested in going after any of the oblivious people below. No mouths were stitched shut, no eyes poked out. For the time being, at least, we appear safe from these darting hordes.

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