Monday, April 18, 2011

A lizard's tail

I'd like to start this story by saying, "I was just minding my own business, when suddenly..."

But in all honesty, this story only took place because I wasn't minding my own business. I was being a nosy neighbor. There, I said it.

So actually, I was sitting in my front yard a few days ago, taking a picture of some cute little succulent flowers, and I happened to notice a man and a woman walking on the other side of the street. As I glanced over there, I noticed that they had stopped in front of my neighbor's house and seemed to be staring intently at something on the ground. I watched the lady pick up one of the fallen leaves from my neighbor's big magnolia tree and give a little poke at whatever it was. And then the man stomped his foot in the same area. Twice. Why did he stomp there? What were they looking at? Apparently satisfied by their poking and stomping, the couple resumed their walk and soon turned the corner. By then, I was already on my way across the street to see what it was that had caught their attention.

Wild thing in the grass
I found this alligator lizard. Her scales looked more orange than the average alligator lizards that I see around here. She was beautiful. And she was completely intact. Maybe all the poking and stomping on the part of that couple was just an attempt to get her to move. But she seemed content where she was, stretched out in my neighbor's front lawn. So I settled down on the sidewalk to take her picture. (I had my camera in my pocket from when I was taking pictures of my succulent flowers a few minutes before.) She almost looked like a snake with her little legs tucked along her sides.

Pretty red scales
I'm really sorry now that I didn't get a shot of her whole length, but I was concentrating on close-ups. Maybe then, she decided she'd had enough of annoying humans because she suddenly lurched forward and slithered through the grass and right under my legs. I sprang to my feet and she kept going, right into the street! And it's a big street! All I could think of was that I didn't want her to get run over, but I was reluctant to pick her up for fear of getting bitten. So I tried to "shoo" her across the street. Not a good idea. Every foot or so, she would stop and whip herself around and hiss at me. Before we even made it halfway across, she turned back towards my neighbor's house. Then a car was coming. It was the lizard or me. I stepped out of harm's way and watched, cringing, as the car missed the lizard by inches.

A dip in the gutter
Now the lizard changed direction again, back to the middle of the street. Back towards my house. I returned to my "shooing". She whipped herself around again, hissing and whipping her tail. And it whipped right off, a good 6 inches or so. I felt so bad to see that tail twisting and curling and flipping in the street, knowing that I had made her do that. But I still had to get her the rest of the way across the street, so I kept shooing, and she finally made it as far as the gutter before I remembered I had my camera in my pocket and my cell phone in the other. I took the picture above, and called Jerry to come outside and help me. He brought my gardening gloves and I was able to pick her up and put her under a bush. By the time I had a chance to take a picture of her tail, it was almost done moving.

There's another lizard tale here, if you want to see it. It's much shorter.
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