It was during a second canoe trip on the murky waters of Lillinonah that a green dragonfly landed on my arm and stayed a while. Only when I reached for my camera, did it fly away.
We started early, the sun still low. Not a cloud in the pale blue sky. The landing dock was empty except for a few bass boat trailers. The canoe slipped in the glassy water without fuss or haste. Load with gear and family, a push with a paddle, and it was. Land, roads, cars and parking lot forgotten. We were a little molecule of four on the blankness of the lake.
We hugged the shore, stared up at old forest. White oaks, hickories and maples that reached branches down to the water. Crisp green leaves, brilliant reflections of the sun, every shade of green in the canopy. Water a matching flat green.
In places the overhanging branches were tall and long enough to glide the canoe under. Tucked under the leaf canopy at water's edge, out of the sun's heat, cool forest colors, deep browns, yellows and reds. Brushing against branches, bewildered spiders fell on us, groggily made their way off.
We startled a blue heron who flew soundlessly from the forest. Indifferent to us, he pointed like an arrow to a spot across the lake where he already was. We waited, then he was.
A red fox fled a garden along the lake edge, not too quickly for we paddled slowly but kept him in sight. He paused and looked back often. He wanted us to follow, it seemed, and show us a place that we didn't understand.
Behind a canopy of trees, an old stone wall meandered down the shore slope and directly into the water. Cut in two by Lillinonah the Reservoir, old fields were no more. Now forested above and watery below, only the stone walls spoke plainly of the past when we tilled the earth and planted crops in a stony valley with a stream at the bottom.
The wall there wasn't right, a behemoth stranded and forgotten, perpendicular to the shore, a broken neck pose, no longer separating any place from any other. What the wall said made me sad. But the wall had not crumbled into random stones. It held.
But perhaps a stone wall is something different. Perhaps it is a representation of one stone moving through time. Each stone is a memory of the stone at a certain time. The wall indicates the stone's direction. This stone had meandered through a forest, or followed a line prescribed, then fallen in the emerald water, perhaps to drown, perhaps to reach the other side, perhaps to remain at the bottom where it could be assured of not being disturbed. Or worse, perhaps its intent was utterly alien.
We passed docks and lawns, power boats and jet skis, well maintained and ready to make their owners happy with a thrill ride down the lake and back again.
Then the dragonfly landed. First it perched next to my son. I called his attention to it, but if flew away. Then it landed on my arm, near my shoulder. My daughter turned and stared at it with me. I think it stared back, manifold eyes. Its wings twitched. Its green iridescent body and arms were immobile. Its eyes gathered information. It rested. Each wing twitch was a frame in sequence.
I loved the moments I look at it.
Then I reached for the camera to capture the moment. The dragonfly was off in a clatter of wings.