This is Larry

Or it might be Lucy.  I’ve never been very good at determining the sex of alligator lizards (nor any other reptile).  In our home, they are all named Larry.

Larry the Lizard
As I am not a herpetologist, this might not even be an alligator lizard — but since that’s what I’ve called them since I was a kid I’ll stick with that for consistency.

Larry is relaxing in our front garden probably looking for lunch.  Or maybe getting ready to take a nap after lunch.  We don’t use pesticides (or herbicides), so Larry has plenty of menu options to choose from.

I’d wager that a majority of folks in our neighborhood don’t realize we have lizards and snakes around here in the southern Willamette Valley of Oregon.

Deer and turkeys and squirrels?  Yes.  Joggers and bicyclists?  Yes (though only some are classified as wildlife).  Lizards and snakes (and chipmunks and bats)?  Who knew?  We knew, because they’ve been inside our home on a regular basis.  Why are they inside our home?  I’ll tell the story in the next post — hint, it will be about Sam.

So it was nice to see Larry outside for a change.  A few years ago, early spring, I came across a dried skin which Uncle Larry had recently shed in our walk-in closet, very near to my wife’s shoes.  Uncle Larry had apparently over-wintered in our closet and decided it was time to roam the house to search for a meal.  The lady of the house was not impressed.

Although we name all the lizards Larry, we do differentiate them based on relative size (nose to tail).

Little Larry is small, typically three to five inches.  Larry is normal size, five to eight inches.  Uncle Larry is into the large category, up to 12 inches.  Then there is Grandpa Larry, sometimes referred to as Godzilla.

Grandpa Larry can be somewhat intimidating, especially when he’s taken over one of the top stairs looking down and you’re on the way up — and you don’t see him until you’re at eye level — and then he starts hissing at you.  That’s usually when I hear my name being called, loudly, possibly accompanied by a stifled (or not) scream.

So please stay outside, Larry.  Try the snails and slugs, I understand they are pretty tasty.

Life is Twisted

We have a couple of wisteria trees.  Their branches, with each passing year, become ever more twisted and intertwined.

Wisteria Twisted 2

The swirling branches, new and old, remind me of the paths some people take during their lives.

New shoots, which can lengthen a foot or more each day, wander aimlessly skyward until their weight makes them drop down into the existing branches.  Children exploring their universe, eventually coming home to the familiarity and safety of friends and relatives.

And, like typical children growing up, some shoots are a bit rebellious and seek new paths away from home.  A nearby chimney to cling to and wrap around, or the adjacent maple tree with its branches beckoning like an exotic, far away town to run away to.

Wisteria Twisted 1

As branches grow more mature and seek their own spot in the world, they continue to wrap clockwise around their elders.  They embrace their siblings and support previous generations.

Sometimes they actually fuse with another branch and become one — a wedding of sorts for these young lovers.  As the years pass, however, one may end up choking the life out of the other until one or both succumb to the suffocating griphold.

Occasionally a branch will be reclusive, finding a path for itself with a minimum amount of twisting, touching, or interacting with others.

Our grape vines are also like perpetual children, year after year.  New growth is fast and furious and chaotic — like children at recess on a mild spring day.

As they run and skip and play, though, they seek friends and support.  “Hello, neighbor leaf.  Will you be my friend?”, a growing shoot may ask as it wraps its tendril around the adjacent vine.  “Hello, Mr. Steel Cable.  Will you help keep me in the air and sunshine?”, another asks on its seasonal journey.

We all have our twisted paths to follow and obstacles to face and overcome, and we can learn from the plants.

It is easier when you have another to hold onto.

Budding Hopes

Springtime brings a proliferation of colors, shapes, and the promise of beauty and fragrance yet to come.

From the rhododendron laden with heavy buds ready to burst open, to thousands of delicate light blue to dark purple flowers on the pleasingly pungent rosemary bushes beckoning bumblebees and hummingbirds to partake of the feast, and the multitude of dogwood bracts getting ready to impress us with their hues and aromas, the garden is alive and well this year.

Continue reading “Budding Hopes”