Sunday 23 April 2017

The pain within patience

It is that time of year, when places far south are already experiencing the verdant delights of Spring whilst, in the north, there is still an amount of patience required before the full spectacle of greening and singing and fluttering ventures forth.

This is the moment of greatest difficulty for me because, despite a trickle of returning Summer migrants, despite roadside verges glowing a vibrant floral yellow, nothing quite assuages the longing for dragons. And, ironically, St George's Day is a month shy of the typical first emergence date for Large Red Damselfly in Orkney.

So it is now that the yearning is at its keenest, with a palpable absence of some missing thing, some sight or sound to put the world back on an even keel, to end this misery in an endorphin-fuelled natural high.

It is said that you always remember your first time, but in truth, I cannot. There is no recollection of my first acknowledged odonate. This is quite strange, because I've always been interested in Nature and could travel in time and space to show you the when and the where of quite a few first species sightings: my first Corn bunting, atop an Ash tree on a lane near my boyhood home; my first Swallowtail butterfly, in a garden of a small village in the hills of Rhodes; and my first (and only) Black woodpecker, which flew past the trench I was stood in, within a German forest. It's a list full of pleasant memories: Basking shark, Otter, Waxwing, Marbled white, Edmonston's chickweed; but for the life of me, I cannot pinpoint the exact moment of the inaugural ode.

A childhood steeped in natural history was strangely bereft of their colourful lives. I noticed everything else, surely I would've seen one and remembered, if they had been there? Then, living abroad, where there's more of absolutely everything, still nowt, though I 'clocked' Black woodpecker, Black kite, Black redstart. Perhaps dragonflies were just too colourful?! It is so strange and perplexing to think that I had some sort of odo blindness, some blinkering effect that rendered them invisible to me but did not hamper an appreciation of other wildlife.

And so, it was not until well into my fourth decade that the scales were finally lifted from my eyes. The first actual memory, but I'm pretty sure not the first dragonfly sighting, was in the mid 1990s, with a Southern Hawker in the small garden of our home at the time. An early evening in Summer, a sun trap concentrating insect life and, for the dragonfly, a fast food restaurant. Me, mesmerised.

Yet it was still several years before I joined the British Dragonfly Society, a few more until I began recording every dragon and damsel seen, and yet more before I felt confident enough to acknowledge that they were an all-encompassing passion. Now, with four weeks to go to the beginning of the local flight season, the crushing weight of waiting presses hard upon my shoulders.

Soon, lad, soon. Not long until the bonds to an aquatic life are severed, until the ungainly emergence of new from old, an unfolding of wings, a burst of heat to flight muscles and the light of three hundred and fifty million years flashing in those all-seeing eyes. Soon, lad, soon.


Mark said...

Hi Mr Tense, a nice and amusing read as usual. I often do a bike ride that follows the River Witham from Lincoln to Boston, it's roughly 70 miles. It is sometimes awash with Odonata, I must be more alert to identify and photograph such.

On another note 'up the Imps whooooooooooooaaaaaaaagh!!!

toodles, Mark.

Imperfect and Tense said...

Aye, 70 miles of river is going to be a grand place to see dragons and damsels.

I am assuming that the Imps were victorious in a local derby?

Mark said...

The Imps aka Lincoln City officially won the national league on saturday by beating Macclesfield 2-1. It was a thrilling game and an electric atmosphere. I took my wife (twd) the wonderful Deb, it was her first match after 26 years of marriage and she couldn't have picked a better match. That puts LCFC in division 2 of the football league.

Imperfect and Tense said...

Jolly Well Done! My team were thumped 4-0 at the weekend and, barring a miracle, will be relegated at the end of the season. Perhaps, subconsciously, that also contributed to my dour blogging?