Distracting Darner Dragonflies

Darner photographed by Jeff Zablow at Jamestown Audubon Center, NY

I just, just finished reading Travels of William Bartram ( Dover Publications, 1955, first published in 1928 ), Bartram’s travels through Georgia, Florida and other southern states in . . . the 1780’s. You know, I often wonder what this place and that place was like in the late 18th century. Bartram was a trained botanist, whose father hiked that land before him, and they both chronicled the flora, fauna, geology and topography of early Florida, Georgia, Alabama the Carolinas and Virginia. Our William Bartram describes the grasses, annuals, perennials, bushes and trees, especially the trees that he saw. They were, by today’s comparison, beyond belief! Yet he never exceeds, or exaggerates. He shares the wildlife, roebuck, bear, cats, snakes and birds, and Very Aggressive bands of ‘crocodiles.’

Especially readable are his accounts of the Creeks, Muscogulges, Cherokees, Seminoles and Choctaws. He lived with them, they befriended him. He shares their physical appearances ( way different than I expected, i.e., most of the Creek men were 6 feet tall or more, the woman also tall ). Bartram shares their games, their solemn ceremonies, too frequent skirmishes, and their near absolute respect of one another, absent the need for police. They had formal organization to govern themselves, they had ‘kings’ and they had slaves. His accounts of the woman also surprise, but you must read to learn more of that.

I, well, could not put this book down. If you’re like Barbara Ann, Angela, Mike A. or Dave, the rich, colorful introduction to the botany will mesmerize. I guarantee that.

Come to this comely Darner. My guides are inaccessible for a while, so short of searching for a name online, I leave it to you. Know that often butterflies are not seen for pieces of time, when we’re on trails, and again, I admit that making a calculated approach of a dandy Darner is a distraction that I sometimes . . . cannot pass up.