I’ve always loved lupine flowers. Named for the wolf because of a mistaken belief that the Lupine depleted or “wolfed” down the nutrients in the surrounding soil, plus some species of lupine are toxic to livestock, they’ve had a sort of love/hate relationship with humans. They do not deplete the soil but enrich it by fixing nitrogen from the air into soil form which helps support other plants. However, there’s that whole poison thing so as beautiful as they are, it’s really best not to eat them.
I have good memories of childhood summers in Maine spent with family and friends and filled with all the joys of sunny, warm days, cool, foggy mornings, salty ocean breezes and rough, rocky shores which were invariably interwoven with the tall spires of colorful lupine.
I can remember lying in the long grass next to my cousin Jenny, the two of us squinting up at a lazy summer sky and finding images in the shifting patterns of the clouds as they floated along. Pulling apart and reforming, the clouds gave us an endless variety of possibilities. “Look! An angel.” “ Naahhh, that’s not a wing, it’s an ear. See? It’s an elephant.” “ Is not!” “Is so!” And we’d spend a bright morning in deep debate over the relative merits of the long, white wisp of a drifting cirrus cloud as an angel’s hair or an elephant’s trunk, with flashes of color darting in and out of our periphery as the breezes pushed the lupine around us in ripples and waves. Some of my best childhood fantasies are surrounded by spires of blue, purple, yellow, pink and red.
One day, I was on my own in the field just letting my mind meander from subject to subject, swimming lessons, thoughts about my friends and cousins, that really cute waiter at the pizza place. Wandering through the wildflowers and the shifting long grass I found one lupine stalk that was perfect. Its color a deep purple and its shape so alluring. Looking down at it from above it made a perfect wheel shape. I’d seen this sort of shape before. What had my Mom called it? Oh yeah, a mandala. It was so beautiful I found myself tracing a path around the petals with my mind. I let my imagination wander...
I could see myself walking a sandy path through tall grass and wildflowers. As I walked the field seemed to expand. With each step the trees surrounding the field faded back and the grass spread wider. The breeze was soft and warm and the shifting grass hypnotic in its gentle movement. Before long I noticed that the waving grass had a particular pattern within the wave. There was an outline where the wave seemed to sway in the opposite direction from how the breeze moved the rest of the grass. Like the ripple of a stone tossed into moving water. I shook my head and blinked a few times but the odd outline remained. It was big and it seemed to grow as the field expanded. I started to recognize a shape. One long curved line ran up, over, down again and then began a swirl back up and around. Gradually a wing appeared, pointed and hooked at the upper bend. Just as I was telling myself that what I saw was obviously a dream image, one huge yellow eye opened and blinked.
Stunned, I fell back, tripped over my feet and sat down. Hard. The eye blinked again and a huge head lifted out of the grass. A long snout with two very big, pointed teeth poking out over each side of a scaly lip, top and bottom. Slowly the creature lifted its neck, pressed down on two huge clawed front feet and raised its chest and back. Scales glistened and took on brilliant luminous colors which clearly outlined the back, hind legs and tail of an enormous dragon.
The head slowly lowered towards me and the big yellow eyes blinked again as though this giant creature was as surprised to see me as I was to see it. In a deep, rumbling voice the dragon said, “You can see me.” At this point, still sitting speechless in the grass, I gave a quick, shaky nod. Then the beast cocked its head and said, “I’m Polaris. It’s eons since a human could detect my presence. We live in slightly different dimensions. Most of you have become so transfixed by your own physicality in this single dimension your ability to see more than the one has all but disappeared.”
“I think I’m dreaming.” I said.”
“Ah. That explains it.” said the dragon with a bit of sadness in his voice, and drawing in a huge breath he sighed, tossing me head over heels for about 10 feet.
“I don’t think I’m supposed to feel all this while I’m dreaming.” I told him “It doesn’t really feel like any dream I’ve had before.”
He looked at me curiously and said “come closer.”
I got up, slapping the grass from my shorts (mom was going to kill me for the green skid marks) and pulling one long stalk out of my hair, and walked slowly towards this glimmering mirage? Figment of my imagination? I still wasn’t sure what I was seeing, and now hearing, so I reached out to touch the end of his nose. The scales around his nostrils and lips were smooth like glass but supple and the light caught in them, and all the rest of his scales, to flash back colors in shifting hues and shades through a spectrum that seemed broader than what I had known up ‘til then. Polaris lifted his head back up and looked down at me, a mixture of surprise and what looked like hope in his gaze.
“I felt that,” he said quietly.
Then his scales all lit up a little, like a flash of light from rippling water, and dimmed again. He lifted one of his huge wings, spreading out each segment so that the webbing between the thin supporting bone structures expanded as far as it could. I noticed that there were scales on the undersides which were quite a bit smaller than those on the rest of his body.
Just as I was noticing this difference, the scales shifted and I could see a mirror image of myself standing in the field just as it was and, in that moment, I realized that his inner wing scales could shift to become a mirror.
“I can shift all my scales to mirror my surroundings.” Polaris said, apparently reading my mind. “It was the opposition of the mirroring that allowed you to see my form. Well, that and the fact that you have enough confidence in your curiosity to allow it."
At that he lowered himself and shifted again so that all I could detect was a dim outline of oddly shifting grass. He shifted back to his shimmery form and said with a surprisingly scary grin, “want to take a ride?”
My heart leapt and I cried out “Yes! Please!” as I ran toward his fanned out wing. I climbed up the ridges of bone in between the folds and perched at the base of his neck with my knees easily fitting over the shoulder base of what looked like a second set of arms made to carry the webbing of the wings.
With one big downsweep of those sail-like wings we were airborne. I saw my house, my street and my small, comfortable world shrinking as we climbed and a whole new world growing. For a while we flew, just gliding and swooping in lazy circles until, as we both seemed to realize at the same moment it was time for me to go home. I watched as the familiar wide field got closer and closer and the colors of the green/golden grass became dotted by the bright colors of the lupine.
My focus became drawn to one purple lupine and as we slowly drifted back down to the field it grew. The very pinnacle of the lupine, perfect and round became the mandala and my mind followed its purple patterns spiraling down into its center until I felt the grass at my back and the sun on my face.
Wolf and wildflower Dragon and child
This photograph was taken June 14th 2020 with my Samsung Galaxy S9 smartphone. I have enlarged it and sharpened the colors with the phone's editing app and further tweaked the color with Google Photo because sometimes my phone shows its images quite differently than my (and most other) computers. I wanted to get the color as close as I could to what I actually saw.