Sunday, August 09, 2020

Talks to Lizards, Must be Crazy

Earlier this year the OC pulled out some shrubs and extended our front porch. We'd wanted to do this
for some time and now that it's done - it's my favorite place to sit, drink coffee in the morning, read and talk to lizards.

You might be fooled into believing it's peaceful and quiet out there. That it's just you, basking in the early morning sunshine, a bit of a song from the birds and the occasional muffled drone of a passing car.  And, most of the time, it is. Two small pots, one of ivy, the other of pothos, that I tossed out into the sunshine when they refused to thrive indoors, proceeded to take over the world and now, a couple of years later, have formed a lush carpet of green under the shrubs and sometimes even have to be dragged down out of the crepe myrtles. Unruly to say the least, but kind of a bonus too - more green.

There's a thriving population of lizards living in and under that green carpet. (Possibly some black racers too but them I don't engage in conversation.) The bushes, trees and ground cover are their own little universe, bursting with life and lizard activity, sometimes even violence. The lizards are calm, quiet, curious and spend a lot of time basking in the sun, unbothered by nearby humans. They will move when I come out there, but not far, positioning themselves on whatever surface is convenient - the arm of a chair, 

the edge of a flower pot,

the plant shelf, a leg of the table, or the ground. They'll fix me with their beady eyes, cock their heads, seeming to wonder what manner of creature I am and if my intentions are honorable. Assured that I mean them no harm, they continue to bask. If I lean over and say hello they look quizzical. Maybe I should learn some lizard lingo because not one, as yet, has said hello back. Sometimes they almost seem to be flirting with me. All those push-ups, all that head bobbing, and especially that display of bright orange under their throats! I'm polite. I always admire the display and tell them what handsome fellows they are. How could I fail to be impressed?

And so it's quiet. You think. Peaceful, serene. You think. But then you hear a tiny rustle in the leaves beside your chair. You glance around, expecting a bird in search of a worm - there's a nest nearby.


No bird. All you see are leafy bushes, and below, that carpet of green. You turn back to your book,
but then you hear it again.  So much for peace and serenity. Now we have violence (have they been watching human news on TV?) Two strapping males, on the trunk of the crepe myrtle, murder on their minds.   

 Meanwhile, the sun continues to shine, the birds continue to sing and the occasional car drones on by and, to the untrained eye, it seems like just another idyllic morning.

The underdog turns tail and runs but the aggrieved one gives chase - "Get back here, varmint!"

And they face off again, teeth bared (if indeed they have teeth. I've been unable to get that close), muscles tensed.

The shrubs are divided by the path to the front door. Is it possible the lizard king from the right had the temerity to trespass on king left's territory? Or maybe he dared, be still my heart, to dally with one of king left's ladies? Time to teach that punk a lesson! I keep very still, don't want to scare them off. I want to see who wins and take pictures of the battle.

The paparazzi are as annoying and intrusive in lizard land as in Hollywood. I will have my pictures.

There's a noticeable absence of other lizards, mamas and little ones, skittering around on the pavement. Probably all waiting and watching from under the leaves, holding their collective breath, as I am doing, hoping the dispute will soon be resolved and peace restored.

I think the dominant male protects all the females and juveniles in his territory. Protection, as determined by a male lizard, might have a somewhat different meaning than you or I would give it. I try not to judge the moral standards of lizards by my own, but there have been times when I thought a word in a male lizard's ear was necessary, as in "Hey Buddy, she's a little young for you, don't ya think?" He'll appear to listen, give it some thought, but then proceed with what he was intent upon anyway. "Mind your own beeswax lady, go sip your coffee!"

Meanwhile, back at the battle site, the interloper is getting his comeuppance, 

and now he's looking like a goner for sure, his head clenched in Super lizard's jaws, his pale undersides dangling, helpless and exposed.

But Super lizard makes a tactical error. He loosens his jaws to adjust his grip and in that split second our under-dog(-lizard) drops to the ground and vanishes into the ivy.

So much excitement! I've seen lizards' tails shortened from surviving similar battles. I just don't think they'd survive as well without their heads.  

And just like that we were back to peace and serenity. Mama came back out,

 a baby cavorted from leaf to leaf, 

 peacetime adult activities resumed, (gotta make more babies)

and the birds sang on regardless. I finished my coffee, bid my lizard buddies farewell and went inside to make the bed, do the laundry and get on with my day.


Elephant's Child said...

High drama.
I think my heart would have been beating extra beats for quite some time.
I am, however, very, very glad to find that others talk to their neighbours without regard to species. I talk to the birds (who mostly ignore me). I talk to the plants too. The weeds sneer and continue their triffid like ways.

Marigold Jam said...

Wow! I found myself holding my breath during the skirmish!! You do put things into words so well - I loved it. But now must go and do the chores and hope that underdog lizzard didn't suffer major trauma at his near loss of head! Here it is birds that I talk to whilst drinking my coffee and sometimes even insects too. We are all after all connected whether we be reptilian, avian or humans aren't we and speaking each others language is not necessary for conversations I find.

Relatively Retiring said...

Who needs films or television when there is such terrifying violence and blatant sex a few inches away from the coffee cup?
I wonder if we would be as observant without the lock-down situations?
One man's small acre is another's great estate - and that's possibly even more applicable to women.

Secret Agent Woman said...

This is a documentary in the making. One I would happily watch - I love this sort of thing. And I talk to lizards and any other creatures I encounter. This weekend, for instance, a hover fly was staring me down and I said, "Hey there, you're back to check out the build? I'm just unloading stuff now." My son said to my husband. "Mom's talking to bugs again." Yes I do and I feel no shame about it.

Sabine said...

That was a great read! It reminded me of the days when my toddler collected geckos from the walls (gently) and wanted to have adventures with them.

Bijoux said...

We are always charmed by lizards on trips out west. I enjoyed your photos and description of the drama as it unfolded!

gz said...

You are fortunate to have a sight of lizard life!

Wisewebwoman said...

What a show they put on for you. One of the benefits of Covid is the time and attention we can give to things we might otherwiae overlook. Lovely capture of those moments and the call of the wild.


Ali Honey said...

Delightful companions, if a bit violent.
Hope you can stay safe dear Friend. Hugs from Ali.

Thimbleanna said...

Wow -- who knew you had such high drama in your midst? Do you think you have a brain-damaged lizard running around now? Thanks for the blow-by-blow details -- I'm glad you didn't have to show us a dismembered lizard in there! ;-D

molly said...

"I love these women!" I thought when I read all your comments today. I go missing for months at a time and yet, when I do finally post something, thinking all the while that it's silly and nobody could possibly be interested, you all turn up like faithful friends and comment! Thanks for hanging in there through the drought!

Lee said...

I talk to everything...and everyone! Some don't reply...some do! :)

Take good care. :)