Lizard Love

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The lizard I write about is the male in the foreground of his cottonwood house. Note the cobalt patches on his neck… He looks as large as his mate but this is a visual distortion – In actuality his mate is larger. I took this picture just after the two mated.

 

He was splayed out

in the pail,

waterlogged.

I gasped.

How long had he been there?

Placing my

hand under his

limp gray body I

laid him out

on a strip of sun warmed

cottonwood bark

noting his cobalt

underbelly- shimmering

emerald silk.

 

Identifying him as

one of the new mated

males, I blamed myself.

for his death –

It had rained the night before.

I hadn’t remembered

the upright pail.

 

Moments later

a gold rimmed eye

opened

into a slit.

 

Filling my lungs

with air

I ceased all

thought,

opened

my body

to the beyond,

(the place where living

and dying co- exist

in unbroken wholeness)

breathing life

into his exhausted

animal body,

walked away,

accepting uncertain outcome.

The sun warmed ashen flesh.

 

Five minutes later

I return to check,

Lizard raises his head

peers about,

his skin is regaining its pattern

of stripes.

I wonder how long

it has been since he has eaten?

He gazes at me intently as

I welcome him home…

 

 

Working notes:

 

Last year when I moved into this adobe house I made friends with each of the sagebrush lizards who lived here. I was privileged to get to know each one by sight as they greeted me in the early morning by appearing the moment I stepped outside the house. Just knowing they were with me helped me survive a summer of such intense heat that I was housebound for months.

 

Last fall I built a half moon garden on the south side of the house and all seven house lizards moved in for the winter, including baby lizard who was born in late August. I was thrilled, knowing that I had created an unintentional haven for these reptiles! During the winter I thought about lizards sleeping just beyond the adobe wall… I loved knowing they were nearby. When my friends emerged this spring (March) I noted that I hadn’t lost one!

 

One surprise was that soon I noticed new sagebrush lizards that were also making their home here (was some kind of lizard grapevine working behind the scenes?). The newcomers were shy, and it took me a while to show them that I could be trusted. One new pair also took up residence on the garden wall. The male had taken a special liking to me and often appeared from a crack in his cottonwood abode whenever I came by and spoke to him.

 

When the lizards began to pair off this month (May) I watched two pairs mate; one was the male that fell into the pail. I am happy to report that the mated females are pregnant and the couples continue to hang out together on different parts of the adobe house, some in the east, some in the south, two pairs on the garden wall. I placed rounded pieces of cottonwood bark as extra lizard houses on the top of this parapet. The lizards can bask there in the sun, hunt for ants, and disappear in seconds if need be. It was on the surface of one of these bark houses that I placed the lizard I thought was dead.

 

To find him floating in a pail of water horrified me not just because I knew I was responsible, but because the lizard was my friend.

 

When a lizard is dying his very distinct markings fade into a dull uniform dark gray; I was barely able to identify this one. That the cobalt patches turn to emerald was another surprise.

 

I am not sure how I learned that sometimes I can help an individual by setting an intention for Life, clearing my mind, cultivating deep breathing, and letting go of the outcome, but learning this technique has helped me at times to save lives.

 

As I watched the lizard recover I viscerally felt and sensed the power of interconnection to effect outcome.

 

I call that power Love.

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