Well, That Was Interesting!

Female calico pennant on spent flower head Kim Clair Smith

This female Calico Pennant and her flower perch have both seen better days.

I had a rewarding experience today while doing my dragonfly monitoring at Wiregrass Lake. It was a beautiful morning and there were only a couple other people at the park, so there were few distractions as I was concentrating on counting odes and taking documentation photos.

About halfway around the lake, a guy with a fishing pole came past me and stepped out onto one of the little stone fishing platforms. They’re popular fishing spots because there aren’t many accessible areas of shoreline from which to cast a line. But they’re also preferred perching spots for certain dragonflies, so I always approach them slowly and hope to find something interesting there.

So when this guy stepped out onto the rocks, I admit to feeling a little twinge of irritation that he would have flushed any good bugs that might have been there. But I know the parks have to serve people with varied recreational interests, and his interest just happened to conflict with mine. I have to be accepting of that, I get it.

But here’s where things became interesting.

Just as I said a friendly hello to him, a pair of mating Common Green Darners landed on some floating vegetation in front of us and began ovipositing. I was very excited because I’d been trying to get some photos of those darn darners as they flew around the lake, so this was a perfect opportunity to get an easy shot. As I often do, I expressed my excitement to the person who happened to be nearest to me, the guy with his fishing line barely ten feet from my target insects. I admit that I was also telling him about them so he wouldn’t throw his line at them and scare them before I got my photo. My comment was ignored, or so I thought. He didn’t say anything as I shot several photos, and I thought he must just think I’m a weird bug dork. (And I am, I know.)

Common green darners in tandem - blog Kim Clair Smith

Common Green Darner pair ovipositing in floating vegetation

But then he started asking me questions about what they were doing. He wanted to know if they were laying eggs in the water. He wanted to know how long it would be before the eggs hatched, and how long dragonflies lived. I was overjoyed to find someone who actually wanted to hear this stuff, and so I dove in and gave him much more information than he’d bargained for. I told him about how green darners migrate like monarch butterflies. I explained about how their larvae emerge from their “shells” just like cicadas do. Each time I spouted another fact about their life history, he seemed eager to know more.

But finally I realized I would just go on for an hour if he didn’t stop me, and so I apologized for bombarding him with information and started to leave. But he actually thanked me and said “That was very interesting!” and that instantly became one of the best moments of my entire day.

It’s human nature to want other people to share our interests, isn’t it? I wrote about nonconformity and social acceptance in my last post, and I’m reminded of it again today. I’m used to being looked at as an oddity when I gush about my latest nature passion, whether it’s birds, dragonflies, or hoverflies. It doesn’t bother me much, because these things give me a deeper appreciation for the workings of the natural world, and make my life rich and rewarding. So I can deal with being looked at that way. But on those occasions like today, when a total stranger shows interest in something and lets me tell them about it, I’m overjoyed and feel like I’ve made an important contribution to that person’s connection to the natural world too.

As I walked away to continue my monitoring, I smiled to myself as I imagined that guy telling his wife about our encounter over dinner tonight. “Honey, would you pass the salad please? And by the way, did you know that dragonflies can live under water for years before they emerge as flying insects?” You never know, it could happen. And that’s exactly why I write this blog, to share what I learn about nature with the hope that you, my readers, will be excited enough about it to tell someone else.Β  And if you do, I hope you’ll tell me about it. πŸ™‚

This entry was posted in Odonata (dragons and damsels) and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Well, That Was Interesting!

  1. Littlesundog says:

    I’m an oddball too, and I agree that it makes my day when someone asks me about what I do with wildlife and has questions. I love that I learn from you, Kim, and I also appreciate that when I have a question (especially about birds) that you’ve helped me identify and educate me about a certain species. I have found many times in life that the oddballs are the most interesting people!! And I love your license plate and that bug dork sticker. Awesome!

    • Kim Smith says:

      I was just telling someone about you the other day, saying how interesting and wonderful you are. πŸ™‚ Like you, I’m drawn to people who can teach me things, especially about the natural world!

  2. You know already what I am going to say…hey girl, you are a teacher!! a natural teacher! Add that to your already impressive itinerary of wonderful skills! Blessings Kim! – Marian

  3. peggyjoan42 says:

    Oh Wow – someone who loves nature – just as I do. Don’t get in my way when my camera is in my hand and the shot of a lifetime is there to be captured. I often bombard people with facts about nature when they are near. Nature thrills me – its beauty is overwhelming. Loved your post and your photos Kim. I will be following your wonderful blog. Peggy

  4. Ardys says:

    I LOVE your license plate! As the actor Ben Platt said when accepting his Tony Award a couple of years ago ‘Don’t try to be anyone but yourself–the things that make you strange are the things that make you powerful’. I can totally relate to your elation at connecting with someone over the natural world. Bravo.

  5. Girl, you are not odd. You are a wealth of information and all you need is an accepting audience. You have it here. Keep on…

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