Dragonfly cedar dock – Version 2

When the wind is not pushing my Laser sailboat on Dickie Lake there is time to think.  Last week a dragonfly dropped by on my board sailer during one of these lulls and it got me to thinking.  As long as I’ve known anything of dragonflies, it has been my favourite insect.  Who could not appreciate an aeronautical wonder that feeds on mosquitos or mosquito larvae, at the dragonfly nymph stage of their life.  And if a deerfly pest should wander from his roadside territory to the water domain of the dragonfly, I’d like to think one of my favourite four-winged odonates would enforce his territory for the good of us all.

This dragonfly on the ivory non-slip deck of the Laser less than a metre ahead of me might have been wondering how my one-winged boat did fly, but it got me thinking of God’s presence in my life.

I moved cautiously to study the insect, but even when a bit of breeze started moving the boat, it stuck with me, along for the ride.  I felt accompanied, as if by the Holy Spirit.  I wondered if there are things that I do that cause that Spirit to abandon ship, as if to say, “I’m not with him on this matter”.  Maybe I need to be careful to “walk right” to keep the beneficent non-creature on board in my life.  But that is such an O.T. kind of thought about the Spirit.  It’s possible that I can grieve the Spirit but the “I will never leave you, nor forsake you” Spirit we now have would just weigh on my conscience, letting me know he was present and not happy with me.

Dragonfly cedar dock – Version 2

The info in wikipedia on Dragonflies would probably understand the dragonfly’s extended stay with me as “warming”.  On Friday afternoon, another dragonfly turned a portion of his multi-facetted eye on me as I hovered over him with iPhone camera.  If I have 7 or 8 pictures of him on the new cedar decking of the dock, it must be this “warming” again.  Folklore has it that if a dragonfly lands on your rod when fishing, it means you are going to catch a fish.  Or maybe you’re just being still, reflecting light, so that this distinguished insect can pass time mutually-beneficial with you.

Hmmm.  Mutually-beneficial.  May my presence be that way.  And also with you.



Cottageday 1 Ambitiously realistic

Day one of my cottage vacation has me delving into the books from first light in the bedroom window, with James Alan McPherson “Elbow Room”.  This is a Pullitzer prize-winning short story book from a black American author who died earlier this week.  Ted deems it “prize-deserving and thoroughly enjoyable”.  Its city settings totally out of context with life in Muskoka.

After swim, breakfast, run, breakfast, swim, I reclined in zero gravity (??) next to a maple sapling and checked out the maples in Donald Culross Peattie “A Natural History of North American Trees”.  This writer, who died in 1964, has the perfect educational background for me:  French Poetry at University of Chicago and botany at Harvard before working for the Department of Agriculture”.  [See inside jacket photo]

Culross Peattie bio
Culross Peattie bio

The language usage is outstanding.  Noted: rachitic, elegiac, dietetic, mayfly, wraithlike, sesquipedalian.  Searching for the Latin expression used by Peattie, “Horribile dictu” I came across the Merriam-Webster Unabridged dictionary, available for a 14 day trial – SOLD!  Will be looking to expand my knowledge of words over this vacation.

Here’s a two paragraph quotation from Peattie which I cite, not particularly for the language, but for the subtle yet precise way that the author expresses an opinion on the landscaping uses of the Silver Maple Tree:

“A tree with so many charms has naturally been planted far beyond its natural range, and everywhere within it.  In the South, where it is rare as a native tree, it is common as a street tree. In the West, even in southern California where deciduous trees usually find little favor, it is a favorite, for it cannot grow without lending grace to any spot; it makes a railroad station look like a home, and adds a century to the appearance of a village street. It is the fastest growing of all our Maples, one of the fastest among all trees suitable to our climate, be they native or exotic.  It is as charming in its childhood as in age, and in its youth goes through no awkward stage.

Yet landscape architects have little good to say of it.  They complain of the insect pests that attack it, and of its comparatively short life, as well as the breakage of its brittle and too-long boughs under wind and ice damage.  They urge that it be planted, if at all, in the full knowledge that it’s quickly achieved effects will not last long, and that more permanent if slower plantings be started at the same time.  It may be that we should always listen to cautious and sensible people and not allow ourselves to think too highly of a tree that will perhaps only live three times as long as we do.”

Natural history and language brought together, like Annie Dillard also capably accomplishes in “Pilgrim at Tinker Creek”.  A treat to consider Culross Peattie’s writing and learn natural history, American history and language, all together.

book cover photo Donald Culross Peattie: A Natural History of North American Trees
Excellent language use forces a first day cottage blog