Friday, July 17, 2009

A Day in the Park

I’ve been intending to go searching for native orchids and other wildflowers in a nearby spruce bog or in one of the other rare Appalachian wetlands. So far during this busy summer I’ve not made the trip.

But the other day, I did gain a new appreciation for a wetlands that I pass by everyday. It’s a fraction of an acre near the edge of the Cullowhee recreation park, and it is a beautiful place that is full of life.

I might have walked right past it, but I saw dozens of iridescent neon-blue matchsticks darting around above the still water and landing on the different aquatic plants that lined the pond.

As I continued to watch, I was intrigued with the many damselflies and dragonflies and other colorful fliers flitting around this little oasis. I have to plead ignorance when it comes to identifying them, but dragonflies and their relatives have always fascinated me, from the time that I was just a tyke on a fishing trip at Badin Lake.

Several pictures I snapped may be of the common bluetail damselfly, but don’t take my word for it. Even if I can’t call them by name, they put on a good show and make for a challenging photographic subject.

Years ago, Mickey Henson told me about this project. And a sign at the park explains how his company, Appalachian Environmental Services, designed and installed the stormwater wetlands to capture runoff from a big paved parking lot. What a great job they did!

Whenever I walk around the park, I think about the history of the place. For the better part of 10,000 years people have occupied the Cullowhee valley. The flat lands that were the site of corn fields for hundreds of years have finally given way to classroom buildings and apartment buildings and parking lots.

The way I add it up we’ve lost more than we’ve gained but I am thankful that somehow, in the process, a little paradise for airborne jewels has come into existence.


Anonymous said...


Betty Cloer Wallace said...

Beautiful photographs! I don't know the names of these creatures either, but as children we called them "snake feeders" and considered them mystical spirits come amongst us from some faery land. They always inspired great awe and reverence, and we sometimes tried (unsuccessfully) to follow them to see where they lived.