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Spirits of Summers Past: The Exuberant Goddess, the Intrepid Traveler and the Gossamer Angel

January 7th, 2017 by Michael Dyet


Hmmm, can I escape from the bitter winds of January by communing with the spirits of summers past?

We are square in the middle of the first January deep freeze of 2017. It is the perfect time to close the blinds, turn a blind eye to the icy sidewalks and dive into my collection of photographs of the inspiring inhabitants of summers gone by.

Nothing recalls the glory days of summer better than a Great Spangled Fritillary like the one at the top of this post. The sun-blushed, metallic gold flash of this spectacular butterfly always catches my eye and incites a stirring in my heart.

This newly emerged and flawless specimen, showing off scalloped white wing edges, had the good sense to perch on a purple wildflower and nestle into a background of verdant undergrowth. I think of it as the exuberant goddess of summer at the peak of its bloom.


This Variegated Fritillary is a cousin to the Great-Spangled although not quite as dramatic as its relative. Yet, it is still elegance personified in its own right with subtle hues of orange bordered by waving black lines, curls and sprays.

Part of the appeal of this species is the fact that it does not usually occur this far north. I found this one a few days after an epic rain storm a few summers back. Most likely it got caught in the storm and perilously rode the wind to arrive here. I think of the Variegated Fritillary as the intrepid traveler in the spirit of Bilbo Baggins trekking through the Misty Mountains.


I return often to this photograph of a female Hallowe’en Pennant dragonfly dangling from thread-like legs on the top of a bowing host weed. It was cooperative enough to open wide and give me the full effect of its translucent yellow wings with smoky black bands

Each time I examine this photo, it seems to me that those oversized wings are much too big to be supported by the slender body. I think of the Hallowe’en Pennant as the gossamer angel bringing the gospel of summer to those fortunate enough to catch a glimpse of it.

Each of these delicate beauties is its own metaphor for the many faces, graces and often undiscovered, quiet places of summer. January winds may blow bitter. But I am basking in the heat waves of summers past – at least for a few stolen moments.

~ Michael Robert Dyet is the author of “Until the Deep Water Stills – An Internet-enhanced Novel” – double winner in the Reader Views Literary Awards 2009. Visit Michael’s website at or the novel online companion at

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