I was “up north,” walking through the woods with an escort of dragonflies on either side, as if I were a visiting dignitary in need of protection.
I love dragonflies. I love their variety and their shiny wings and the way they turn on a dime in midair. I love how they clear the path of mosquitos as I walk through the woods along the lakeshore. I love how they behave exactly as a good escort should.
My husband, Peter, and I spent the early days of summer at my parents’ cabin, where everything magical I imagine about the north woods when I am in the city showed up in reality — as if by magic.
I saw the first wild geraniums of the season. I saw a doe with three speckled fawns. I had never seen a deer with three fawns before and thought she might be running some sort of baby deer daycare, but apparently, all three were hers. I saw a juvenile bear by the side of the road. My mother thought it was a big black dog until it stood up — very much a bear — fur shining in the sun.
It got so uncharacteristically hot that I jumped in the lake. I am a wimp when it comes to cold water, and the lake is deep. But the cabin is not air-conditioned, and one afternoon I just couldn’t stand it anymore. I jumped in the cold water and swam out to the point. Right in front of me, a curious loon popped up on cue, wondering who this awkward aquatic creature was.
A huge storm rolled in and blew the hot weather away. The next afternoon, I walked to the public access with a dragonfly escort. I went to the end of the dock. The wind was blowing fiercely and there were whitecaps on the lake.
That’s when I heard the music.
“Someone is playing a pan flute recording,” I thought. I looked over at the nearby cabin. The music stopped. Then it started again. “Someone must be playing the pan flute!” I amended, listening to the music rise in volume.
Then I heard it coming from the other direction.
“What the heck?”
I turned around and stared at the shore. It was obviously a flute, but now it was coming from both sides of the dock. It made no sense at all. For a moment, I wondered if I was hallucinating. There was music coming from the woods in both directions. And it was getting louder.
Then, instead of gazing out into the trees for my answer, I looked a bit closer at hand.
Halfway down the length of the dock were two stout support poles made of steel. They each had six holes drilled down the length of them and, today, the holes were directly positioned in the path of the strong wind. Suddenly, they let out an unmistakable chord of music. First one, and then the other, then both in unison, then in harmony. I sat down at the end of the dock, put my feet in the water and listened.
The music was beautiful and untamed and utterly unpredictable as the wind that made it. I felt privileged to be sitting there on the dock, listening to this wild and amazing music.
You might say it was random noise created by two galvanized pipes, and I suppose you would be right — but only technically. In truth, it was a magical concert put on by the wind, and I was fortunate enough to be the audience, a lucky guest, ushered in by dragonflies.
Till next time,
Carrie Carrie Classon’s memoir is called “Blue Yarn.” Learn more at CarrieClasson.com.