Instilling absolute fear and disgust, bugs are not what people gravitate towards when talking about the beauty of nature. However, for as long as I can remember, bugs have fascinated me. Their speed, their sounds, their colours – Incredibly frustrating to capture, but charming to observe. I spent my childhood summer days roaming the community garden studying all the critters I could find. Ants were everywhere, pouring out of the entrances they dug into the ground. Grasshoppers jumping great distances to show-off their powerful legs. It surprised me the first time I saw a grasshopper fly. I just found it so cool and unfair that not only did they have the ability to quickly jump but could also experience new heights flying short distances. Watching the bees travel from flower to flower was enchanting, but also scary because I wanted to avoid their stinger at all costs. The buzzing of flies and the chirps of crickets deafened my thoughts. And mosquitoes seemed to never leave me alone. The wilderness within that garden and any of the trails I explored showed me how diverse and colourful critters could be.
One of my earliest experiences with bugs involves studying the caterpillar lifecycle in one of my elementary classes. My teacher provided us with reading material, infographics and eventually procured a display so that we can house some caterpillar eggs. Once the eggs hatched, we spent a great deal of time taking care of them daily, constantly checking their progress and anticipating the changes they would undergo. Before long, the caterpillars entered their chrysalis form and finally escaped from their shell as monarch butterflies. In our school’s garden, we set them free. After being trapped in a cage for all their lives, they were now free and able to explore the world. During their release, another bug had caught my eye. It was the first time that I can recall seeing a blue dragonfly and being enchanted by its transparent wings.
In all my childhood adventures, the bug that fascinated me the most must be the dragonfly. With its distinct body, glassy wings and zig-zag flying patterns, I was always enamoured by this creature. Yet all the times I have tried to capture or photograph it, it got away. At some point I stopped chasing them and simply enjoyed the sight of them. The dragonfly gave off an aura of mystery and power, always flying around earning its name. That is why during a walk through my neighborhood one day in my young adult years, I was so excited having caught the glimpse of a dragonfly. It seemed a bit peculiar that it kept following my friend and I, but I was thrilled. My friend on the other hand hates bugs and was complaining the entire time which amused me. Now, I am a person who uses their hands a lot when I talk, especially when I am excited. So funny enough, as my friend and I are discussing our hate and love for bugs respectfully, the dragonfly lands on my sleeve. Filled with excitement, I try to grab my phone to take a picture, but with every twitch, the dragonfly moved closer to my hand, fluttering its wings as if picking up speed down a runway, ready to take off. Wanting to commemorate the moment, my friend thankfully takes a photo. The raw image captures my pure joy being able to finally come so close to a creature that is always evaded my grasp. I have tried to edit the pictures before, but every filter, blurring tool or lighting aspect I change removes something wholesome about the images to me. To be quite honest, I am not the greatest editor, and a bit of laziness might have prevailed in maintaining the images in their raw form.
This moment truly made me appreciate being present in the small moments in our lives. Whether I had caught the moment in a picture or not, it would have stuck with me forever, but I am glad I have the photo. It made me appreciate the patience involved in wildlife photography and just the amazing eye photographers must capture surreal images. More importantly, the image truly does tell a story more than what is visible. It represents a cumulation of the years I have spent chasing the elusive dragonfly but eventually a serendipitous moment allowed for it to come to me. Forever in awe of the wilderness around us, I hope you too have moments where you can observe the brilliant colours, whimsical shapes, and orchestrated sounds of wildlife and appreciate the world before you.