Are dragonflies magic? My favorite insect, I think.
Humans have always had a fascination with them. We were creating amulets of the insects back in 1640 B.C. Egypt.
They’re prehistoric. Ravishing to look at. Voracious hunters. Fascinating to artists, like Wenceslas Hollar, the great 17th century lithographer.
A cloud of hundreds of dragonflies swelled over our heads at the outdoor yoga class offered at Kitchawan Farm in the early dusk. The farm, in Ossining, was a place I’d always wanted to visit. It was September 11, and the class was free to whomever wanted to drop in, a way to mark the day.
Kathleen Clarke led the group. She usually was an instructor at Dragonfly Wellness nearby. Perhaps she brought the bugs?
I brought my boot and a desire to stretch my tight, tired muscles, sick of sitting with my foot up for six whole weeks. We laid out our mats, the dragonflies zooming and booming above.
I didn’t know if the people there would be nice about my infirmity. Maybe they’d be yoga-fascists, insisting on fast, sweaty gyrations, on keeping up a certain pace. But as soon as we set up, a woman hurried over to offer me a plastic chair in case I needed it. It turned out to be Linsay Cochran, who manages this century-old family farm. So gracious, and so welcoming.
There was a meditation to begin, and Kathleen suggested we think not so much of September 11, but perhaps more important, September 12. What did we do in the wake of the tragedy? I thought about the 11th, watching the flames all the way down the Hudson, scoping from Hastings to New York City from the lawn next to the library, the dawning dread that this was real. But September 12th – what did I do, actually? I think the day was about our shared shock, but also about the difficulty of explaining what had happened, to myself but also to my nine-year-old daughter.
At Kitchawan, in the dusk, we stretched our arms to the graying sky, held our hands in prayer position, again stretched our arms to the sky.
My Frankenstein boot presented no problem. Kindness, I felt, made my awkwardness a nonissue.
Kitchawan Farm has 20 acres, and specializes in flowers as well as vegetables and herbs. The blooms of later summer were all around.
“There shall be eternal summer in the grateful heart,” wrote Celia Thaxter, a popular gardener/writer of 1890s New England who is now, like so many women writers of that time, largely forgotten. If you are in need of eternal summer, give Linsay some advance notice and she will a bouquet for you.
Gil and I had wandered the rows when we first arrived. Decided on chard for dinner.
They’re mainly a CSA operation here at Kitchawan, and some people were coming to pick up their shares. Others picked up their wild, sweet children from the little summer camp there.
Late-season bounty crowded the tables.
We bought garlic from a young woman in the “stuga” (Swedish for cottage), two of a half dozen varieties. A garlic house, how charming.
Wished we could get closer to the horses – the farm boards 10 but they were all off behind fences in their horse dreamworlds, munching grass.
Gil had gone to walk in the woods of Kitchawan Preserve while I levitated under the dragonflies.
Linsay, laying out on her mat, was constantly attended by her large, gentle dog Pogo.
When the sun salutation came, I knew my foot was spent, so I moved my stretched-out body over to an Adirondack chair and watched the dragonflies recede.
I inhaled the scents of manure and herbs. Listened to the horses snort, the excited hens and rooster and guinea hens vocalize. I heard Kathleen taking the little group through the final meditation, murmuring a narrative that was all about compassion, gratitude, virtue, healing others. There was so much good feeling here at Kitchawan, they could sell it in bouquets by the roadside. Or, I guess, give it away.
Being able to heal others. I don’t know about anyone else there, but I felt a little healed. My foot was tired, but my soul weariness had been transported away by dragonflies.