The Dragonfly Day (oil on canvas, 5 x 7 in.)

1 June finds me on "The Dome" at Elbow Lake Education Centre, a high outcrop of gray granite, looking down on Elbow Lake in the Frontenac Axis of eastern Ontario. Piles of lichen patterned granite are jumbled here and there on the solid bedrock, surrounded by grasses and bushes wherever they can get a roothold, and here and there the delicate, thread like Pale Corydalis nods its pink and yellow snapdragon-shaped flowers. One that I'm painting is weighed down by the attentions of a heavy Bumblebee, briskly spreading the petals and probing each flower in turn. Suddenly the air all around us is alive with a loose cloud of about 30 hunting Dragonflies, darting and swooping and hovering, their four wings a blur and their abdomens tipped up slightly.

You can see three Dragonflies in my painting - one large dark one near the top, a more distant one against the lake on the left hand side, and over near the right hand edge, the glistening horizontal wings of one perched on the weather-bleached branch on the rock pile.

We hiked up here to see where the Five Lined Skinks live, quick copper-brown creatures with bright blue tails. We don't really expect to see any in the early afternoon of such an unseasonably hot day. What is special about today is the Dragonflies - large ones, small ones, with short stout abdomens and long thin ones, broad abdomens banded with white, red ones, black ones... Owen takes photos of several different kinds as I sit here painting the whole active scene - it is as if the world is dancing up here on the Dome!

Bushes of Northern Arrowwood are blooming with frothy white flowers, raining tiny petals onto moss and lichen. It is dry up here. Whatever can survive is stunted - White Oak and Shagbark Hickory look healthy but they are small for their age. We see signs all around us of die-back from last year's drought, Staghorn Sumac, Red Maple, and young White Pine.

As we leave I am still enthusing about the Dragonflies, and Fred mentions that shortly after we arrived, he saw a large Dragonfly carrying a Bumblebee! He didn't see how it turned out, or whether the Bumblebee was being successful in stinging its captor in flight.

Dear patrons and supporters,

This original painting is available for $275, in support of our biodiversity surveys and conservation research. For more information, e-mail me at 

Aleta Karstad


  1. Wow, a dragonfly carrying a bumblebee.
    I love your painting, Aleta, fascinating dragonflies you have there.
    But I'm waiting to see one of those skinks. Such a wonderful word, "skink" don't you think?


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