Monthly Archives: August 2014

Just When You Think You Know Someone – Mosquito Hawk

I’d mowed the lawn. I’d played with the dogs using the garden hose and paddling pool. It was hotter than Hades so I parked myself in a lawn chair to enjoy a few minutes of rest when I noticed a some things going on in the domesticity of my backyard.

Charlie in the pool  Piper chillaxing  

True and Charlie

The lawn was iridescent. Smallish dragonflies – bigger than the wee skinny blue ones but half the size of the giant blue helicopters. Half of them were tangerine in colour and the other half ruby red and they were covering the grass. Their wings made the yard shimmer and they seem to only fly about a foot or two off of the ground. Really beautiful. I was able to photograph a few when they rested on the broad leaves of the raspberry bushes.

Tangerine Dragonfly Ruby Red Dragonfly


I’ve been lamenting that we’ve had very few dragonflies this summer and those that have arrived seem late. I know different species hatch at different times of the summer but there was a distinct absence of all of them until just recently.

I should say that I had the incredible opportunity last summer to tag along with several international enthusiasts from the Dragonfly Society of the Americas. I learned so many interesting things about dragonflies from them in the couple of hours I spent watching them net dragons out of the air like they had apprenticed under master Obi-Wan Kenobi. I was even able to pass along a couple of bits of information I’d learned from them to a young “learn to camp” girl who is a recent immigrant to Canada and had caught one in her pond dipping net quite by accident. She ran off excitedly with the dragon clasped gently between her fingers to show her parents and so the passion for mosquito hawks goes on!

Anyway, back in my yard … The mosquitoes are torrential again this year and so I love dragonflies and was so happy to see my lawn covered in them. And then, just when you think you know someone …

MURDER! Murder and carnage in my peaceful oasis!

A giant blue dragon came out of nowhere and smashed into a smaller one on the grass. At first I laughed and was like OMG, interbreeding. What is THAT going to look like next year?

Kind of like my poor Charlie who has the full sized body of a golden retriever and short little basset hound legs – sigh! Cute but not great for him overall.

Charlies Day 2014-06-14 034

Would this dragonfly concoction have a gigantic ruby body with stunted wings?

But then something seemed kind of odd so I got up to go and take a closer look and HOLY TOLEDO! It was on top of a mating orange and red pair and had eaten the head off of the orange one.

Is that the definition of #Frienamies? I mean, I suppose there’s some competition for prey and I know dragonflies are carnivores but REALLY?! A dragonfly eating a cohort? I was having trouble stomaching the sight. I even felt some anger toward Big Blue like, c’mon man! That’s two less dragonflies in the War on Mozzies! What’s your deal?

Such is life in Nature. I reminded myself that that’s how things roll in the great wide wilderness and I went back to my lawn chair while Big Blue gathered up what was left of the mating pair and flew onto my neighbour’s shed to finish its feast. Rub-a-dub-dub. Thanks for the grub. YAYYYYYYY Mother Nature!

Now, gory image aside, I carried on with my relaxing afternoon but twice more in less than an hour I was witness to a similar act of violence, er, suppertime carried out by a Big Blue preying on Ruby or Tangerine. Yes, I’m naming them which screams anthropomorphism of critters but at least I am aware that I’m doing it.

There are very few Big Blues around and tons of Rubys and Tangerines but still. To be 41 years old and never have seen this behaviour before and then see it THREE times in a row was a bit stunning. So you know I got photos.

The third time I had to do it. The Big Blue was like a hawk picking off an unsuspecting mouse in a field. BAM! Big Blue dive bombed out of the sky and plucked Tangerine off the lawn and flew straight into a tree with its prize. I ran under the tree and realized I could reach up and pull down the branch just far enough that I was able to blindly hold up my smartphone and take photos. (click on the images to enlarge)

Carnage  Big Blue eats Tangerine

And that’s life and death in the Dragonfly world. A harsh reality and creepy but awesome in a strange way too. I’ve loved dragonflies since I can remember and that hasn’t changed in spite of learning about this gruesome detail. I still rescued two Tangerines from the dog pool later that day and set them on a fence post in the sun to dry off. Hopefully they didn’t get picked off by the Big Blue that I rescued from the roadway earlier before their wings had a chance to dry and they could fly away.

Let’s part with a hopeful image. I also managed to get a courting flight of a Tangerine and Ruby.




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Posted by on August 6, 2014 in PonderQs


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Travel Well – When are you at your best?

Where and what are you doing when time ceases to exist because every cell in your body is vibrating and every neuron in your brain is firing? What awaits you on those days that you leap out of bed ahead of the alarm clock ringing?

I’ve identified a couple of things that have that effect on me and I’ve realized that if I can immerse myself in that which ignites and motivates me then life is 100% richer. I think it feels like a wealthier life, not because of the salary figure attached but because of the internal well that fills and overflows. The challenge, sense of accomplishment and even failure inspire me in the right circumstances.

I think one good measure of knowing whether or not you’re on the right path is how you feel when you fail at something. If I feel demoralized or even apathetic about a poor outcome, chances are pretty clear that I’m on the wrong path. If a failure makes me hungry to try again, do better or use my creativity to envision a different way, I’m travelling well.

1 Footprints 2014-07-23

Isn’t it interesting that as children we so easily migrate to those things that we are naturally inclined but as adults we tend to choose what we think we should be doing or need to improve upon? Why don’t we embrace and follow our strengths rather than beat ourselves senseless trying to perform the stuff that’s on a grown up version of a report card that we hold ourselves accountable to internally?

It’s important to learn new skills and to try new activities, to push ourselves in fresh directions that might open doors of opportunity, but forcing ourselves into boxes that staunch our growth can’t be helpful or healthful.

It sounds so Oprah to say (because she said it) but… here’s what I know for sure.

I AM… an adventurer, a story teller and a seeker of information in order to more deeply understand the world about me.


I’ve always loved the excitement of an adventure, taking calculated risks and I’m incredibly curious. That said I was never the kid who took the scariest jump off the highest piece of playground equipment but was possibly the second to leap if I could determine with assurance that it wouldn’t kill me. I liked the thrill of scaring myself and feeling just a bit tougher than others who wouldn’t even entertain the thought of tossing themselves from a height, but only if it was on my own terms. If anyone tried to push me into doing something that made me nervous, I shut down. I concluded early on that people bullied and pushed their intent on me only if they were hiding some fact or had an ulterior motive that didn’t have my best interest at heart. There is no satisfaction in fulfilling someone else’s goal, especially if it strips you of your confidence and self-determination in the process.

I loved exploring and rejoicing in the feat of the bravest and most athletic. At times I have berated myself for sitting on the sidelines but the truth is I’m simply not as determined or as reckless in the pursuit of pushing boundaries as some people are. But I’m pretty courageous, question everything and I love to record what those living closer to the edge do – through story telling or photography. I want to be in the thick of things observing the risk takers and change makers so that I can retell the tales of their actions to those who will never be part of that world but who wonder about it.

Shady Lake 2013 049

[An aside: This attribute also makes me an interesting party-goer. I don’t like to drink but rather bartend. The view from my side of the mickey affords me some excellent fodder for teasing in the days following!]

I love being part of a team where excellence is aspired to. Within that team I need a certain amount of freedom and it’s important to me to have a distinct role that contributes to the end result. I hate being told what to do and need to be trusted to do my part well. I take responsibility and deadlines seriously. I will ask for help if I need it but if controlling, commanding and condescension are in your vocabulary and not collaboration, you can do it yourself smarty pants.

One of These Tents is Not Like the Others

I love being able to reflect on a day and know I accomplished something tangible or contributed to the team accomplishing a greater goal. I don’t want to be the centre of attention but I do like the publicity that my work receives.

I love knowing people intensely through situations where we live large and loud and actively and we’ve had to rely on one another to get the best result. I love knowing a few people really well and being comfortable with them having seen me at my worst or my weakest. I don’t doubt that they have my back because they know I have theirs after seeing them at their lowest.

I like a world where judgement is left at the door; communication is clear and mission-based so as not to be taken as a personal attack when a decision is questioned; each person on the team lifts the others up with their words and actions; and everyone is working towards a common goal that has a clear end in sight.

A success then, is something to savour because everyone on the team knows what it took for each member to do their best whether it was through physical or mental courage and prowess. The entire team has a loyalty and respect for one another that runs as hot as the blood in their veins. It’s vital to the result.

The key element in making all of this come alive for me… the mission must be in the wilderness.

Waskesiu Lake     IMG_20140629_174936 Elbow River Alberta 2014-06-29      IMG_20140629_174701 Colder   IMG_20140629_175200 Shady Lake 2013 041   Birch in Autumn

There is no greater equalizer than Nature. There is no other force that can so swiftly knock a person to their knees, humble them to the core and then raise them up with gifts of fleeting grace and beauty as Nature.

Ice  Weathered Wood Dewdrops 1  Puzzle Rock



Bow Lake 2014-07-20  Indian Paintbrush Mountains 2014 Height of Land Tower  Paignton Beach 2014

Working with the elements is about adaptation, not winning or beating an enemy, for Nature is not an adversary. It just is, and the challenge is whether or not (and sometimes how quickly) you can puzzle out how to harness Nature’s power to resolve the issue at hand in a way that mitigates irreversible (versus perceived) damage and destruction and heals the earth while protecting those living nearby. Achieving that delicate balance is a grand experience that will leave the entire team buoyed for weeks afterward and striving to repeat the high through increased excellence.

Fire, flood, electrical storms, blizzards, canoe trips, working with wildlife; these are all areas in which I’ve experienced feeling that I am not just connected to but part of every aspect of the natural world about me. There is no separation between Nature and my body and that which I perceive to be “me.” When I can get in that groove and do it with a team of people who are as equally present; body sweating, muscles pumping, sight sharp, ears tuned in, mind keen and lungs so full of air it feels like you might take flight, that is when I am fired up and closest to being the best of what I have the potential to be.


But the very best part is knowing that I still have room to grow which makes getting out of bed tomorrow as exciting as it was today.





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Posted by on August 6, 2014 in PonderQs


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