Gossamer Tapestry

Reflections on conservation, butterflies, and ecology in the nation's heartland

Friday, May 11, 2007

A Dragon (fly) Tale

Dot-tailed whiteface, teneral (newly emerged) form

I’ve been expanding the number of blogs that I read over the last couple of weeks (like I have time for that, but anyway, I have). Several of the new blogs focus on the natural world, and they have been fun and informative. One of my new regular stops is the Dharma Bums, run by Roger and Robin Andrea from Washington State. Robin Andrea had a couple of beautiful dragonfly pictures up this morning, and I thought I’d try to identify them. I have a dragonfly field guide from Oregon that I pulled out, and it remained me of a story.

Two years ago Leon asked me to accompany him back to his old home town for his high school reunion. He hails from Myrtle Creek, a little town in the southwest part of Oregon. We decided to make a week of it and do some travelling in addition to going to the reunion. I was a bit apprehensive about the reunion itself. I wasn’t so much expecting any unpleasantness because we’re a gay couple as I was concerned that I would be bored out of my mind hanging out with a bunch of folks that I didn’t know. The fact that I have never had the least inclination to go to one of my own high school reunions probably also figured in the equation.

The trip was a blast. First off, it was fun to finally get to see Leon’s home town. We had been together for more than 20 years at that point, so I’d heard a lot about Myrtle Creek even though I’d never seen it before. It’s a beautiful little town in the foothills of the Cascades. Leon’s former classmates were pleasant and welcoming people. At one point during the opening pizza party, he introduced me to a friend named Steve Gordon who casually mentioned something about bird watching. When I pursued the topic he said that although he does some birding, his primary interest is in dragonflies. Well that really piqued my interest. When we first built the museum where I work we used a bunch of images from an Oregon dragonfly photographer named Steve Valley. So I asked if Steve Gordon knew him. Steve looked completely nonplussed and asked how I knew Steve Valley. They know each other quite well. Steve Gordon is actually a fairly serious student of dragonflies, and had a new book about to be published called Dragonflies & Damselflies of the Willamette Valley.

I may have had a better time at Leon’s reunion than even he did. Some of Leon's other friends also proved to be very interesting folks. Steve and I had a great time comparing notes about dragonflies and the natural world in general. We even managed to spend a bit of time along the South Umpqua River scoping out the local dragonflies. Steve’s book came out a few months later, and it was my copy that I attempted to identify Robin Andrea’s dragonfly from. My main regret? That I couldn’t get a copy during the reunion and have Steve autograph it for me.

Unfortunately, Dragonflies & Damselflies of the Willamette Valley is not available from Amazon. You can get ordering information here.

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At 11:05, Blogger robin andrea said...

What a great story about the class renuion. South-west Oregon is quite a nice place to return to. The best part of these gatherings is finding people who share your interests. It's like finding like-minded bloggers. All over the country we find people who make the world that much sweeter.

I tried to ID "our" dragonflies. I see that it's definitely not my forte!

At 11:14, Anonymous Mark H said...

That's what makes Oregon interesting. Even in my old desert hometown in SE Oregon there are a few very interesting, some weird people. One big ole' guy I grew up with is GAY and CHOSE to stay there and farm! To this day I can't quite get my mind around that. Oregon has more different "parts" than lots of places...so come on back and visit.

At 11:43, Anonymous rcwbiologist said...

Sounds like a good reunion. I haven't really had the desire either to go back to any of my reunions. Although, I'm thinking it might be a bit of a trip to go to my 30th that will be in 2010. I recently purchased dragonflies through binoculars for R. At 6, he can pick them out better than I can. Pretty fun stuff, and I found a use for my binoculars other than birds.

At 01:41, Blogger Ur-spo said...

your blog is growing.
I am please that it is so.
Give hugs to Leon.


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