Every year when the weather breaks, the little, little…
Hang on a second.
Let me Google it. I know it’s not a gecko or a salamander…
Wait just a second.
Skink. They’re called skinks. Five-lined skinks to be precise (and boy, am I glad that’s an ‘i’ and not an ‘a’ in that lizard’s name, or y’all’d be emailing me post-haste) come out all around our property to sun themselves and soak up the heat along our brick house and window ledges. (And the photo does, indeed, show a five-lined skink. I thought I’d have to compromise and use an insurance lizard for this week’s blog.)
Well, in Indiana, sometimes the weather breaks, and sometimes it reboots three times and then you get frozen five-lined skinks, but that’s another matter.
We have a three-season room addition on our home, built before we moved in. One of the huge selling points. It’s on a slab and not very well insulated. The original exterior brick makes up one wall, and the other three are mostly windows. We might turn on a little heat out there if we’re hosting Christmas or some such goofy nonsense where I actually have to cook and at the same time pay attention to what I’m cooking. That way, if I do accidentally give someone food poisoning, at least they were able to enjoy the best room in the house while they partook of the poisonous feast.
I’ll occasionally let the cats out there in the winter. The sun shines the brightest in the mornings in that space, and they catch sight of the sunbeams. You know, those rays of warmth that dogs and cats alike seek out as if the beams are their species’ long-lost mothership calling them back to their home planet.
Anyway, when the weather really does break, humans and felines all enjoy that room quite a bit and I leave the doors open to the main living room and enjoy the breeze.
The other day, I was doing my get-the-room-ready cleanup of bugs and general dust layers from it being mostly closed up for a while. It was a typical Indiana spring day with a rogue snow shower blanketing the freshly sprung dandelions with a decent inch of snow. But it was melting, and my spirits were rising, so clean the room.
I moved one of the cat’s little napping huts (don’t make fun… I’d have a napping hut or three if I could get away with it) and there it was.
And there went my mood, melting faster than the spring snow.
A petrified lizard tail.
I squawked. All three cats had re-gathered in the room with me after the vacuum stopped its evil sucking. “Guys, it’s too early for lizards. Waaay too early.”
Poor guy (or gal) probably came in about the same time the dandelions popped out and got his season of sunning off to a bad start. Hopefully he lived to tell the others not to slip into the cracks around the back of the Paul house. Stay in the front. Out of sight. Out of mind.
Last season, I can’t tell you how many tails I swept up. Stella Marie even brought me one no bigger than the tip of my little finger — still wiggling. I never know if the lizards have been consumed or if the “eject and run!” method of survival worked in their favor.
I feel sorry for the things, I really do. I enjoy watching them sun themselves; many have the shimmering blue tails—well, the ones at our address have stubs, but you get my drift. They scale the bricks with their little suction-cup toes. Sometimes I sit out front and if I’m still enough, some even emerge from the cracks in the sidewalks and run over my feet. I always warn them, though they don’t listen.
“Stay in the front. Spread the word.”
My cats are well-fed. They lack for nothing (napping huts, right?) They only hunt for the sport of it. Criminals, all three of them.
A few seasons ago, one of them managed to bring in the other half of the lizard (or the other 80-85% of him, I suppose) — still wiggling. He left a slender, bloody trail from the doorway (his tail had been eaten or dropped in the sunroom) where he skittered all the way to the cats’ feeding station and hid under their water dish mat.
Clearly not the brightest bulb in the box, but hey. He was traumatized.
Who knows what I’d do if some creature caused me to eject a body part.
Come to think of it, I’ve been in no fewer than seven situations in the last ten days where that defense mechanism could’ve come in handy. Drop an appendage faster than a five-lined skink and run.
Drop several appendages. Who needs them anyway? I’d have to learn dictation as I’d have no hands to type out new fiction, but… to get out of anxiety-producing social situations? Or mind-numbingly dull events? I’d consider it a viable option…
Then skitter off to the safety of fuzzy unicorn blankets, unfinished manuscripts, and murderous cats.
Poor little lizards…