The dragonfly looked fine at first. It had crawled up out of the water sometime during the night and had settled on this rock adjacent to the fire. It was in the process of breaking out of its larval or nymph mode and becoming an adult when we noticed it on the rock.
I recall thinking that it was quite close to the fire. This is why I think it ultimately met its demise. No one interfered with the dragonfly. We simply observed his moult and his coming of age as an adult, periodically checking in on its progress.
It appeared strong and confident (if they can feel that) at first. Certainly, nothing seemed to be wrong until quite suddenly it was. The new adult, having come out of moult, simply dropped onto the ground, thereby crushing and awkwardly bending its wings. It never recovered. It floundered from this point, never really getting back to a position I would say was sturdy. Was it at this point that death was assured?
We attempted to lift it on an adjacent rock to allow its wings to straighten once again and then to harden into a pair ready for flight. They never did. The dragonfly didn’t survive. The apt description I seemed to recall was ‘failure to thrive’. Was it the proximity to the fire that hurt the dragonfly? Was it too hot and over time it felt this?
It was somewhat sad to be honest. Here was an animal that had lived underwater for up to a year or possibly two, predating on other organisms, getting larger and larger, winning the winnowing of its own kind. It no doubt successfully avoided predation on numerous occasions. It was a success story, until the very end. It felt like such a waste.