Michael Waters – Autumn Maple Leaf Dragon
There is something glorious about autumn in New England. More than January’s drifting snows or the golden heat of high summer, more even than the vibrant blush of new growth in the spring.
The sky sheds its cornflower blue of August for the vibrant sapphire of October. The nights chill, the forests adopt a warmer palette, while winds dance, branch to branch, picking them skeleton clean.
Every year buses of tourists stream north in ritual observance of nature’s spectacle. But what few know is that the Dragons of New England are observing their own seasonal rites. This is time when Dragon fancies turn to thoughts of love. Courtship and mating are the order of the day, and for those in the know, it is a magnificent – if potentially dangerous – time to go Dragon watching.
The dull scales of late summer have been refreshed by a much-needed molt. Bright and shiny, amorous sires take to the air, trying to impress potential queens with aerial acrobatics that would make the Air Force Thunderbirds green with envy.* Of course, Dragons are the ultimate professionals at such things; definitely a case of ‘don’t try this at home.’
This is the best time to catch sight of them, for, once on the ground, they are gone. They vanish into the woods, their scales mottled by the sun, making them invisible to even the most discerning eye. This – and the danger involved with intruding on the privacy of Dragons – accounts for the dearth of first-hand information on draconic mating habits.
So, next time you think about leaf peeking, remember to turn your eyes skyward. You might just be amazed by what you see.
* Note: Contrary to popular myth, Dragons are smart enough not to fight over mates. They know their numbers are too few and their enemies too many as it is. Autumn for Dragons is a time of renewing life, not taking it.