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July 30, 2005
A dragonfly zoomed across the patio, just three feet from Noodle's head. She sprang straight up, one paw raised like a basketball playing going for a dunk. Reaching for the insect, she reached too far and did a complete backwards somersault in midair. I let out a little yelp for Q to look, but it was too late: she was neatly on the ground again, daintily washing her face and behind her ear with one paw.

You should've seen that! I told him, She did a complete flip three feet off the ground from a standing position. Noodle pretended not to hear me and began to wash the other side of her face with the other paw.

The dragonflies have been plentiful this summer -- a good thing, as they eat mosquitoes and flies, and their very presence is a sign that the ecosystem of the garden is in tiptop shape. There have been many different kinds of dragonflies: inky black ones with luminescent blue wings, strange golden biplane ones with double-decker wings, enormous red ones whose wings glint green and gold. It was no wonder Noodle sat and watched for about an hour last night before she made her spectacular jump -- they were zooming around in great numbers: I counted twelve different ones in one minute.

How splendid they all are. The cats, the hummingbirds, the dragonflies, the monarchs and viceroys and cabbage butterflies and those black butterflies whose names I don't know. Even the Japanese beetles are beautiful to look at, although beauty is as beauty does.

Now the garden is mature and vigorous, the first frenzy of spring bloom long gone and the serious business of fruiting and growing in full swing. Now the weeds grow thick in a single day, and it is time to smother them with mulch. Now the insects are adults, numerous, reminding us, as they go about their business, that they were here long before we were and will be here long after we're all gone. Built to last, bugs, taken as a group --and they mostly take themselves as a group. Not like us, cerebral but ephemeral fools that we are, thinking that we can have immortality as individuals when we can't even have it as a species.

We will meet again, we say when someone we love dies. And we know it is true. But we also know that it won't be like this life -- this life is over when it ends. We are as prepared for eternity as the unreflective ant, clueless as to the next stage of life.

But we live as though there were a next stage, as they do. They munch on their leaves in preparation for becoming pupas or laying eggs or turning into butterflies, and they don't know anything about any of that yet. We are just the same, working and munching and shopping and making love as if we would live forever, and we are right about that -- wrong about immortality having anything to do with our looks or our personalities, but right about never really losing anything we really need.
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