Thursday, July 27, 2017

Last Vigil at the Pickerelweed

Pickerelweed, Halibut Point 
It's a vivid spot, attractive to creatures on the wing that are sometimes attracted to other creatures on the wing. This slice of the story starts with pollen and nectar, the bargaining treasure of flowers.
A pollen gatherer and a nectar eater
(Flowers, the utility chest of plant propagation in nature, have earned a post-evolutionary premium in the vases and gardens of beauty.)

When the flowers were fresh
The pickerelweed grows in the basin of a quarry excavation, across the pond from the platform where the power plant used to be. It blooms uncommonly blue in the landscape. I have the sense today that the hue is diminishing from violet into grayish purple after a riotous week hosting pollinators. Spent flowers carry a bony look. Spindly structures protrude among petals like the ribs of tired umbrellas.
Spicebush Swallowtail
Quite likely the spotlight is dimming on this particular arena, its parade of novelties moving on. To get my telephoto lens as close as possible to the little mysteries still buzzing in the flowers across the way I extend the forward leg of the tripod down into the tangle of vines at the water's edge. I keep the camera strap secure around my neck as a caution and lean into the distant microcosm.

Blue Dasher
Dragonflies govern the intermediate air. Occasionally they patrol the pickerelweed itself without alighting. I envision them ornamenting a Chinese scroll but there's no hope of uniting those elements in the camera. Leave it to art.
Twelve-spotted skimmer
The elusive dragonflies do occasionally rest on a twig where they can be admired in detail. The light plays on their cellophane surfaces. Kate Wolf's voice reverberates from her song She Rises Like the Dolphin: "Where she was she isn't now/That's all you really know."

Sunshine fills the dell. A single bead of sweat rolling down my spine is absorbed at the waist. Great shadows startle the glade when gulls fly over the rim from Babson Farm Quarry to the sea. A towhee pweets.

Hummingbird Clearwing moth
The camera records details for eventual perusal. Last night in my photo review I distinguished two species of clearwings.

Snowberry Clearwing moth at upper left
Now the promise of daily novelties has begun to fade with the flowers. With ankles fixed and eyes steady at the lens I gyrate stiff knees and hips. This may be the last vigil at the pickerelweed.

A sudden blur passes the viewfinder. It hovers resonantly, dwarfing the moths. I swing the camera, shutter speed auspiciously set fast for flying bugs. Down the row of flowers flits a hummingbird. In the snap of a finger I preserve the souvenir.
Female Ruby-throated Hummingbird
A bit of nectar deep within the tubular flowers awaits a partner able to sip without touching, its bulk delicate in the air. The enigma vanishes while Kate Wolf's song plays through.
"If you think you'll hold her in a shallow pool,
catch her in a waterfall, you're thinking like a fool.
She'll strike up the horizon, like a ship out to sea.
Leaving just illusions that look like memories."

Evanescent experiences can in the age of digital photography become memories to share.

1 comment:

  1. Really enjoyed this, Martin. Was right there with you as I read.