There Goes the Neighbourhood
A small furtive movement attracted my eye. I dropped the hose and reared backwards. It looked like a coiled snake.
From a safe distance I gaped at the reptile. Two well-nourished lizards eyeballed me. They were luxuriating in my garden bed and had no fear of me. Indeed, they were so cool and collected I suspected they might be sniggering.
I let them be – on the assumption they’d make themselves scarce. Au contraire they arranged themselves into a cosy entwined position and nodded off.
The term denoting those who are outrageously hip and layback – lounge lizard – suddenly made sense. Nothing could rattle those two.
The sun moved on and the afternoon light diminished. And still they dozed. I had to finish watering the garden, so I let them know my intentions by saturating the plants around them.
The smaller lizard darted off through a small hole in the fence and disappeared into my next-door neighbour’s long grass. Finally some action but the larger lizard panicked and dashed across the lawn to take refuge under my house.
I figured he’d come out when he was ready and cruise back home. Two hours later, I discovered he’d crawled under the length of the house and come out the wrong side.
He appeared to be exhausted and possibly dehydrated and was slowly dragging himself along and following the wrong fence.
It’s rare for me to discover a being who has a worse sense of direction than I do. I get lost in megastores. And have been known to get totally lost in underground car parks. To the point that when I try to leave I can’t locate my Fiat 500.
This never fails to surprise me. I live in a state where most citizen’s cars are white, grey or black. And a bright red car really stands out in gloomy underground carparks.
Back to the interlopers. I knew it was best not to touch or move wild animals but the lizard seemed dazed and stressed. Soon it would be dark and he was far from home.
Having tugged on a pair of soft leather garden gloves, I gently picked him up and held him while supporting his chubby back legs. He was furious and thrashed around but I retained a soft grip and we set off across the lawn.
I noticed my neighbours at the rear of my property were having an evening tipple on their deck. No doubt they were checking out my progress and grinning.
I was more than a tad nervous and held the lizard away from my body so he didn’t have a chance to sneak in a chomp. But my faked bravado almost failed me when the captive almost escaped. He was stronger than I’d thought.
All that could be heard was me yelling, ‘Oh god … ohhhhh god … bloody hell! … faarrk! … faarrk!’
He calmed down and we made it back to where we’d first met without mishap. I put him down gently, close to the place where his mate had disappeared.
Unfortunately, he still didn’t twig he was near home and promptly set off the wrong way. Again. All I could do was watch helplessly while silently willing him to turn back. He did.
Then he peered into the tiny escape gap, gave a hearty wiggle – presumably he was sucking in his capacious gut – and disappeared from sight.
I slipped into my home and gleefully poured myself a generous shot of vodka.
photo: my two next-door neighbours – otherwise known as common garden Australian lizards. They resemble Blue Tongue Lizards but the smaller lizard has a red tongue. Reputed to be harmless.