I’ve never been fully sure, with darners. Dragonflies. How I grew up, you kept your eyes open, there were some really bad guys. They lived where you lived. You and your friends kept your eyes out for them. The ‘Connected’ guys, still kids, but pruning to earn their membership and place, well they were no problem. You knew them, you played with them, but once you reached a certain age, you split off from them, ’cause you were headed in a different direction, and their chosen trade didn’t sit right with some of us.
But the ‘going to be Connected’ guys were no problem for us, they knew you belonged on your street, in the neighborhood, and they had strong family ties, and you, though not that, belonged on the puzzle board, so they were fine. It was the neanderthal misfits that you had to watch. They traveled in 3’s or more, they were not that quick in the lightbulb department, and they liked to beat-up the unconnected, those who didn’t have friends nearby, within sight.
I wasn’t that big, but I made it just fine. My father taught to set your feet, and deliver. If necessary, I went for the teeth. I was mostly left alone, should I be sans friends. My formula was mostly successful. But I was aware, always aware.
Once when I was say 8 or 9 or 10 years old, I got it in my head to challenge a dragonfly. We lived at the edge of developed land in Brooklyn’s East Flatbush, and empty ‘lots (as they were called)’ bordered East 58th Street. I had quick hands, a good dose of self-confidence and though they were not numerous, I’d always watched the dragonflies that came along, flying at super high speed.
I spent enough time observing spiders, ants, bees, butterflies, praying mantids and the other neighbors in those lots, but it was the dragonflies that I just couldn’t figure out, I didn’t get the Darners. What’s their story. Why do they seem to rule the air in that lot on East 57th Street?
So, split-second decision, I’m gonna’ snatch one out of the air, first chance I get, and see what happens, see what ‘they got!’ One like this one flew overhead, fast. Made my move, got it! Argh! The bite it delivered was excruciatingly PaInFuL! You know, these dragonflies (like this one at Lynx Prairie Reserve in Adams County, Ohio) were like the really really seriously don’t mess with guys in my neighborhood. Always to be left alone, never to be approached.
To this day, darners attract me. I still don’t ‘get’ them, but respect that they fly around good habitat, suffer you in their neighborhood, and leave you 100% alone, though they have the tools to really put the hurt on anyone so foolish as to confront them, as in grabbing them in mid-flight.