Fifteen years ago when I desperately needed a connection to nature, I found small, color-changing anole lizards appearing on my patio, outside my workplace, and sunning on every rock. They were all telling me to Pay Attention, to start looking outside myself and my little drama. I probably wouldn't have noticed, except that they suddenly seemed to be everywhere. In a way, those anoles saved my life, or at least my sanity.
Now I am paying attention to the changes in an anole on my front sidewalk. He first appeared on my front stoop in mid-February, way too early for anoles to be out. When this lizard appeared again the first week of March, still stressed and brown. I hoped he was a sign of arriving spring. I put a warm towel on the sidewalk next to him and hoped he would feel better.
A few days later arriving home after work I found him again on the sidewalk, this time dead. Surely a cat, rat, or opossum would carry him off in the night.
It seemed too sad to scoop the lizard into my trash bag on the way to the dumpster. I could bury him, but maybe I should wait for insects to consume him and save his skeleton to show my students.
Each day for over a week I've expected the anole to disappear. Instead the skin shows more color everyday. No profound insights here about life, death, or returning to dust. I don't want to be morbid or gross. I'm just thanking the lizards for their insistent command to observe nature, and to notice by paying attention once again to a small reminder.
© 2010 Nancy L. Ruder