Earth Notes #3 by Rani Iyer: Astonishing World Flight of a Remarkable Creature

II Shivoham II

Have you ever just laid your head on the ground and laid still? Breathing lightly, feeling everything in and around you intensely. Hearing your heart beat. Your intestines gurgle. You lungs collapse as you breathe out. Your hand rests on the dead stump. The cicada larvae chomping on the log is now audible.  You are lying on in a forest clearing.

Slowly you open the eyes and look at the sky. Clouds are sailing towards the mighty mountains. No doubt laden with moisture. You wonder where they are coming from. Maybe from Africa. Could be from the deserts of Namibia? Do clouds still come in search of the lost Gondwana land? Could animals know that too? You would think scientists would know all the answers. Scientists, you know, have lost the love of wonder.

In the lull, the sun comes out and shines a rainbow on everything you can see. From the ground, the sun seems like a benevolent giant. In this forest, you simply believe that you too can belong. Nobody can judge you here. You have no deficiencies here. You are perfect as you are. You are not puny, you are not tiny. You are just right.

Then, you hear it. A buzz. Oh! Is that a hive moving? A stump is a right place for their home. You scramble and dash to the nearest standing tree. O! Shoot! The camera bag, your observation books, and your lunch everything is scattered around. But the buzz is moving closer. And you see nothing. You hear the buzz. You see nothing. Not. A. Thing.

Now you are intrigued. You step out of the armor. And get back into the clearing and glance at the skies. Yes! There they are. Not bees. Dancing dragonflies! Each one beautiful and flashy as the rainbow. Each one dancing into the streams and filling up with water. Each one drunk. Each one unsteady flying lower and lower. Each one resting.

You too wade into the water. You drink the sweet water. You love the company of the hovering dragonflies. They sit in your thumb and drink from the palm cup of your hands. When the water drains and you pick up more, they come back again. They are drunk. So are you.

Upstream water is heavy. Minerals have not bleached out of them yet. Water is cool. Water is heady. After a while, you want to move out before the sunset. Work needs to be done. You go back and pick up your stuff. Your backpack loaded. Your camera in hand. You head the opposite way from your plot. You trek up the barren rock. You sit and watch.

The dragonflies fly high. They fly in the wind. Seems to you that they are testing their wings. They fill up with water. Their tummies are bulging. And in one invisible signal, a bunch of them take off. Over the week, you watch many such packs. They all fly over the peak. You think they are racing towards the coast. Do they cross the ocean? Where would they go?

You never know. But, you know.  A bit. In your forest, every year, they emerge, in March or April, from the water. They feed and grow. They play and mate. They evade the birds. They dodge the civets and small cats. They enjoy life and one day, before the rains, they fly over the peak into the plains.

Early this year, you would have read a science story that startled you. The dragonfly is a global traveler. It catches the monsoon air currents to crisscross the entire globe. They could be traveling around 5,000 miles (8047 kilometers) distributing their genes across the world. And you smile at the friendship you had. You reminiscence playing with them at the stream. You recall the time you sat on the cliff and watched them dive into the plains. You recall wishing you had a transmitter to put on them or be tiny enough to ride on them.

The discovery makes you smile. You now know that you could meet your friends’ genes anytime, anywhere. You just need to be in an air current or by freshwater. And a friend will always find you!

rani iyer2Rani Iyer is the author of over ten non-fiction books and over seventy magazine articles. She writes about science, nature, culture, human-nature interactions, and natural ecosystems. Rani Iyer has visited and worked in many temperate and tropical forest systems in Asia and North America. Her favorite place on Earth is to be among the old growth mixed temperate evergreen rain-forests at the Olympic Peninsula. Her experiences as a tropical field biologist, scientist, instructor, laboratory assistant, and as an administrator inspire her to write. You can read more on and on her AMAZON page 

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