I’m rambling today, with thoughts flowing in and out of my mind as I sit in the briefly temperate morning out of the sun, watching the comings and goings of wildlife (used broadly) on the patio of the micro-haus. Dividing the thoughts up into bits and bobs – penny for your thoughts?
From the Observatory (aka The Patio):
Last night and today I’ve been listening closely. We had a smattering of rain from clouds too lanquid from the day’s heat to even make the effort to really rain, more like spitting, resting, a little more spitting. The sea breeze though, is nearly constant. My large frog pair were quite thrilled at even the spitting part of potential rain, and charrumped and chortled when it began to hit the overhead umbrella canvas hard enough to make itself known. Although one or two of them have literally been on me, I’m still not sure what they actually are in taxonomic terms. If I were to gamble a guess, I’d say the run-of-the-mill Green tree frog. They are quite loud, and echo the larger colony visually hidden but vocally present, hunkered down in the lush greenery edging the nearby lake. They don’t require rain to sing though, and are often heard carrying on many evenings. They hang about my rainwater catch buckets, many times inside of them clinging to the sides with only their black shiny eyes visible. A time or two as I have been greeting the sunrise on the patio, they take great leaps and jump on me like a person late to work grabbing the next available bus. I’m never sure who is more startled, the frog or me. I know I’m noisier when it happens, and far less graceful than they are when they depart, realizing I’m not a suitable resting place. Their sounds though, are amazing. They make different types of sounds, answer each other, can cause another one to make itself known from a further corner of the outdoors, and generally, when not on me, make me smile a lot.
Then there is the hidden, far quieter frog or toad that I never actually see. One resides near my aloe vera plants, and quietly sings, almost like a little cheep of a baby chick. From across the patio, behind the shelving unit, comes an equally quiet and subtle response. This goes on for a few minutes, and then they rest.
I also have a resident red-headed woodpecker who chirps and whirs throughout the morning. He’s often quite overpowered by the mockingbird that starts and ends the day with its entire repertoire, either from the nearby mimosa tree or sometimes from the electrical wires that run the length of the alley. If enthusiasm were a bird, it would be this one. Pavarotti had nothing on this little creature when it comes to gusto and length of performance.
The regulars are interrupted often by the gulls, a startled heron squawking when disturbed from surveying the surroundings from the neighbor’s rooftop, and the raucous group of Quaker parrots that sometimes arrive in a great gob and raise Cain for a bit before rushing off in a huge swooshing group for another unsuspecting place.
Then we come to the lizards, anoles and geckos. It is amazing to me the assortment of these little dudes that share my living space. I have a soft spot for the geckos, normally hanging on the screens near the solar lights at night, chowing down on tiny unseen bugs. Some of them are nearly translucent, and I love their little paddled feet. Brown Cuban anoles are the norm around here with their fancy dewlaps and a penchant for running down the smaller, paler females, biting her on the neck (for grip?) and getting busy. In fact, one area of my patio I call the ‘porno patio palace’ as I’ve seen several mating lizard pairs in the same place at different times. I should probably look behind the solar lights and see if there is a tiny sign flashing “Girls! Girls! Girls!” or something. Or maybe they are giddy from the insect collection points on the fronds of the Shell Ginger, who knows? At the moment I am watching a male and a female posture on different sides of the half-whiskey barrel that holds my rose bush. He spied her from atop the fence and hurried down. They seem to both be watching me, as if I’m some parental interference in their little ritual. She’s struck several different poses, and he appears to be indifferent now, and they are both studiously ignoring one another. Ah! She leaped from the barrel to snag a bug – a little nosh before amore eh? She runs past him with bug legs dangling from her lips…sexy, oh my! And apparently that does it for him, because she runs around the inside of the barrel, finds a nice rose cane to climb, leaps to the trellis, where he joins her for a bit of snuggles. But SHE bites him at the base of his throat where the dewlap resides. I guess the neck is an erogenous zone for more than just the human species. I think I missed my calling as a biologist. Either that or my celibacy is having a detrimental effect after all. One incredible thing that I notice post-coitus is that he is much, much lighter in color than he was when approaching her. Now that would be a scary adaptation for human males to pick up, donchya think? Brings an entirely new light to that tired phrase in romance novels ‘dark with desire’ eh? Action shots filmed in a five minute timeline.
By the way, in addition to having regenerative growth in their tails, male lizards have two male appendages. So if anyone ever asks you to play Lizard Man in a movie, just think on that and make sure you’re up to it…(too much wordplay fun in this post)
But I had one visitor this weekend that defied anything I’d seen here before. The ridgeline on his back, for lack of a better term, is amazing. And I can’t find a description on any of the herpetology sites either. I was talking on the phone with a girlfriend and announced “Well, I know what happened to the dinosaurs…remember the movie “Honey I Shrunk the Kids?” Well, I have a miniature dinosaur flexing at me right this very moment!” He was quite aggressive, moving steadily towards me and doing push-ups, flashing his dewlap repeatedly. Finally when it looked as if he was considering making a leap on me, I shooed him away and he jumped into the…wait for it…dinosaur kale! Anecdotal evidence, sure, but hey, I’ll take it. 🙂
My last lizard adventure today was a loud PLOP! into one of the water buckets. I sometimes find lizards flailing away in there and will rescue them. Today’s diver moved with purpose. It was after slow food. There was a beetle taking a swim and the lizard just helped itself to a meal waterside, and promptly climbed out, beetle safely tucked in its jaws.
That concludes Monday’s portion of ‘The Wild Kingdom’, brought to you by a pre-dawn rising, wonderful hazelnut cream coffee, and the jasmine and tea olive drenched aromatic atmosphere of the patio.
It is on days like this that I regret I did not try to pursue this path earlier in my life, when I could have honed it, fleshed it out, played with it more instead of trying to cram it in on late nights after work, early mornings before work, and on long weekends when I should be weeding, doing laundry, going grocery shopping, maybe even dating. Would I be further along, maybe truly able to go live in the woods and make a living writing? While I have written for nearly as long as I can remember being able to write, most of it was not fit for the public eye (and may still not be, hah!) There is a joy though inside of me, when I write. A sense of purpose that is not met by the remaining hours that I sit before a keyboard, pumping in data, crunching numbers, writing technical things and dealing with highly intelligent but frustrating engineers. Writing is a solitary thing though. It requires quiet, contemplation, the ability to just stop and experience things. To examine them and turn them over. My life before was never quiet. Now, I enforce quiet by eschewing other things in order to do what I love, which is write. Why though? I don’t have any stellar philosophy to impart to the world, some new way of handling economics, creating world peace, or anything really of value other than one person’s observations, limited by my own experiences and environment. The only thing I can credibly say that I hope to offer to others is perhaps to cause even one person to stop and think, to think differently, to perhaps walk out of your front door and see what is there. To look at the people around you and see them, too, in a different light. It is maybe to offer others a different lens to put on their own perspective. Just as a photograph can reveal things we’ve not seen before, when viewed through another’s perspective, so too, may writing. Or it may be the most egotistical thing one can undertake, to think that what they have to offer is of importance.
The neighborhood is coming alive along the alleyway now. Two neighbors are discussing drying basil and oregano, and whether it is better to freeze the dried herbs into ice cubes or to infuse olive oil with them. Then they are off to discuss what they are growing in their gardens, planting wildflowers to encourage the bee population where the soil is poor, and the types of flowers their wives like them to bring in from their walks. The newer resident relocated here from the Northeast and is a former farmer. He left his 1,100 acre farm to his daughter, who is raising cattle and enjoying the farm life. He doesn’t care for our sandy soil, very different from his former home in Connecticut. And all of this learned simply by listening. I’m usually at work when the others here are out and about, leaving early in the morning and returning after dark most nights. Cloistered behind my high fencing, quiet other than the tap, tapping of the keyboard, it is a type of voyeurism I suppose. Being around people without having to be with people. I am most comfortable though, in a place where the sounds are all natural – birds, wind, water, animal rustlings. I thrive on the quiet background noise of the living of the inhabitants that share our world, the ability to pause and watch in stillness without being thought odd, or worse, casing a house for a future robbery. Even when I take my camera out in the current locale, people look at me strangely. In the woods, there is no one around to care if I lay on the ground to get a close up of blooming mosses, or look under the foundation of a house, or simply stand in a field of daffodils to inhale the scent of thirty or forty of them together, looking around with a goofy smile on my face and mouthing silent thankfulness for the beauty in the world and the eyes and time to absorb it.
And now I must really attend to the things that need doing, and set aside my pleasures.
Be well. Smell a flower. Peek behind the scenes at lizard lovin’. Inhale life into your own bloodstream, and look towards the small things, for in them is satisfaction to be found, the companion to contentment.