A couple of weekends ago, we met friends in Central Park and wound up at the model boathouse after a walk. Next to the concession stand’s noisy line was the boathouse itself. Inside, it was still, and light sifted through a couple of dusty windows. Rows of model yachts lined the shelves along the sides of the boathouse and occupied two massive tables, in front. Pride of place belonged to a square rigger with toffee-colored wooden sides and hull. There was hardly room to do much more than stare at the boats, whose owners were out somewhere on the Sound on life-sized versions, perhaps.
Outside, only two or three boats were going around the pond, tilting wildly in the wind. A park worker in waders was fishing out both boats and giant clumps of algae from the middle of the pond. Pairs of brothers and sisters were fighting over the radio controls, as a parent sat, off to one side. My husband knelt down at the edge of the pond and stared at the granite.
“Vážka,” he said, pointing. Something flickered on the stone, but I couldn’t make out anything. Our two friends, also Czech, peered closely, exclaimed, and dug for their iPhones. I was in some universe where, if you couldn’t name it, you couldn’t see it.
Then the sun came through the trees and hit the stone. The insect tilted its wings–a steely biplane pair–and vanished.
That’s how I learned the Czech for “dragonfly.”