The annual dragonfly hatch in our city being in full swing, with any casual glance conning the most amazing and populous zigzaggery (“it’s like the world is filled with beautiful tiny flying machines for a while,” says my son), I review the natural history with my children. The dragonflies mate in the air, an engineering and logistics feat we discuss at length, trying not to imagine mom and dad flying through the air while engaged in amorous adventure. The eggs are then deposited anywhere and everywhere, even at the bottom of lakes and ponds. The hatchlings are so voracious and strong that they can snag and eat little fish; when it’s time to graduate, they crawl out of the water, change uniforms overnight, and fly off in the morning, completely blowing the minds of kids who sit on the grass and count thirty of them in our yard alone, never crashing into each other, occasionally eating some poor lumbering flight plan, and in general, as another son says, “stitching the universe back together, probably, couldn’t that be so?” And his dad sits there gaping, thinking that by golly that could be so, that could be so.

Brian Doyle is the editor of Portland Magazine at the University of Portland, and the author, most recently, of a novella, Cat’s Foot.


  1. This year, in my suburban Maryland backyard, I have enjoyed a bumper crop of dragon flies. Like a dozen world class skaters on an ice rink with no rules, they zip about, stop on a dime, take a break on some yard detritus, sometimes long enough for me to take close up pictures. Magnified some with my macro lens, their gorgeous flight skills are matched by fantastic color and microforms. The finest of hairs atop their bulging wing muscles punk up in Mediterranean blue, for one. A gift of a moment. An invitation to experience awe. In a suburban backyard.

  2. This is such a beautiful post. Children amaze us all the time with their reasoning and ideas. You put kids and bugs together and something magical happens. Thanks for this!

  3. “stitching the universe back together” – what a beautiful phrase! Your son caught a glimpse of something totally profound – couldn’t that be so?
    Of course the profound is all around, but it seems so immediate when he put it that way … even through the filter of time and a bolgpost. Thank you for sharing!

  4. Brilliant! So short but so potent. Thanks for sharing!

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