A few weeks ago two lizards appeared in our yard. They seemed to be fast friends, even though one looked like Rango and the other like the typical lizards one finds in the gardens of LA. The standard lizard did his customary push-ups while the escaped day of the iguana or rogue karmic chameleon with upward curled tail demonstrated her distinctive walk: a funky rolling gait in which she seemed to ride an invisible wave. Regular lizard, in contrast, snaked side-to-side as he cut dusty trails or climbed the walls.
Sadly, a couple of weeks ago, I found the fish-out-of-water lizard dead in the pool, imitating William Holden at the beginning of Sunset Boulevard. Unlike Gloria Swanson, however, I didn’t call the mortuary, but rather buried it, with spirit but without much ceremony in the sacred ground where also rest three guinea pigs, a goldfish and assorted birds and mammals who met their demise within the confines of the land I tend, but do not pretend to “own” (no matter how banks, mortgages, property taxes and departments of water, power and trash might weigh, cash or trash-in on the matter).
Then, last week, I had left the pool to look for tools to work on a fix-it job that had been vexing and eluding me for many weeks. Suddenly the remaining lizard was in the pool, floundering in front of Andy. She called out to me—the go-to person in our family team for tasks such as spider, beetle and lizard rescue, but I was out of earshot in the garage, the clanging of wrenches and drill bits obscuring the human cry for help.
And then the lizard started to go down, sinking toward the cool depths of the deep end. With no one else to do it, Andy dove down and handled the lizard, transcending from visual appreciation to tactile assistance, scooping the stunned animal out of the water and placing him on the warm concrete.
I emerged from the garage with my socket wrenches to find the stunned lizard frozen in place on a patch of wet. We all watched it concerned, its eyes unblinking wide as we humans gazed upon it in a thin puddle of fast-warming water.
“I rescued it,” said Andy, “I hope it’s okay…” It had lovely markings and from head to slivered tail-tip might have been a little longer than two cupped hands. I knelt down and lightly grazed its head with my finger. After a moment it seemed to regain its bearings and, back in character, serpentined on windmilling legs into the tangle of trailing rosemary and dark leafy bushes—a wave pattern of endless Ss, perhaps yeses, hanging in our minds like a slowly vanishing vapor trail.
Later, on the way to dinner, Andy said she was glad to have saved the lizard. She said it was a good sign, and the boys asked, “A good sign of what?” And she replied, “I don’t know, just a good sign.”