My Backyard Airport

My backyard is as busy as an international airport, but thankfully, not as noisy. As I prune back some of the winter-ravaged plants, I am surrounded by this flying traffic of bumble bees, honey bees, butterflies, humming birds, wrens, thrushes, and (my favorites) dragonflies.

I’m not sure why, but I’m thoroughly fascinated by dragonflies. It’s not just their beautiful jeweled colorings, after all the butterflies and hummingbirds are no slouches in that area. No, it’s more in the way they move. It seems so random and yet so intense, as if they are determined to get somewhere, but suddenly can’t remember where it was they were going. (I do that quite often myself.)

Several of them dash into the yard and zip left. Suddenly they stop. Hovering over the hibiscus bush, which is just starting to show some green, they appear to be contemplating the best route to take. The next minute they’re off, darting straight up, only to stop once they reach the tree tops. Again, they seem momentarily lost, until they finally zip over towards the neighbor’s yard.

In my mind, I picture the ladybugs, who act as air traffic controllers, up in the tower (located at the top of my trellis) all shaking their heads in frustration as the dragonflies once again ignore their directions. Yet amidst this busy airspace, the dragonflies still managed to miss all the other traffic, a feat that impresses me as much as it frustrates the ladybugs.

I resume my inspection and pruning of the winter-damaged plants, and I note that the windflowers and marigolds are getting ready to bloom, at least those in the south flower beds. I also spot some sprouts of green on the Mexican petunia, and smile—I was almost sure that this winter’s freezes had done them in.

As I reach out to trim back some of the dead leaves from my Bird of Paradise plants, one of the red dragonflies lands on the handle of my pruner. We study each other, neither of us moving. Then flit. He’s off again. I see him hovering near the ti plant, as if to say, “You need to prune this one, too.” A moment later, he turns and zip, he disappears.

I prune, and dig, and trim some more, until tired and sweaty I pull off my gloves and head towards the lanai (a fancy term for deck). I settle into one of the chairs and admire the sprouts of spring now more visible since I cleaned out the deitrus of winter, and I smile.

Gazing skyward, I watch the air show taking place above me. Butterflies soar gracefully overhead. I follow the path of one blue butterfuly and one swallowtail butterfly as they sail across the lawn together. They veer ever so slightly, their path taking them to the orange tree near the fence, where they flutter around the orange blossoms that smell so wondrously.

Two dragonflies dart into view, one yellow and one green. When they stop to take in their surroundings, a hummingbird swoops between them. The hummingbird dashes over to the hibiscus bush, and then pauses to fill up at several of the blooms.

The dragonflies have disappeared for the moment, but a hawk cries out it’s opinion of the show as it soars across the sky heading for a nearby tree top. An owl hoots approval from the forest at the back of our property, but doesn’t make an appearance, and a large woodpecker applauds by pounding a tree.

Several of the air traffic controlling ladybugs alight on the screening enclosing the lanai, and begin walking up to the roof. While the honey bees busily check out the few flowers that are blooming.

Zip; flit; float; soar; buzz; hover. Flit; zip; soar; float; hoot; buzz. Float; hover; hoot; tat-tatta-tat; zip; flit. As the airport traffic continues to fill my backyard, I doze off and dream of dragonflies, darting and zipping randomly, but with purpose, across the yard.


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