Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Great Lizard Hunt

For 10 years, I’ve lived across the street from one of the largest, most well-known series of mountain biking trails in south Orange County. For 10 years, I’ve heard stories of beautiful scenery to be found on the trails and the great wildlife encounters that people have there. For 10 years, I’ve wanted to go exploring back there, but never got around to it.

Then I had a kid. Who turned out to be a boy. Who turned out to like lizards


And catching lizards? The world’s newest sports craze, apparently, and my kid is its most ardent disciple.

Add all those ingredients together and what do you get? THE GREAT LIZARD HUNT OF 2008.

So, there I was, hiking up a narrow, rocky trail called “Lynx” (for good reason as we found out later) to the top of the Laguna Canyon ridge while carrying a hand-crafted “lizard snare” made out of foxtail grass (did I forget to mention that my boyfriend is the king of all things outdoorsy and boy scout-like which, apparently, includes the ability to make the perfect lizard snare out of foxtail grass? I did forget? Well, let me mention it now.) and diligently searching for any sign of small, reptilian life.

The lizards, alas, were not very cooperative with our goals, but we did come across quite a bit of other wildlife. Scrub jays, turkey buzzards and rabbits were plentiful. We saw a whole family of what looked like a type of quail, but I’ll have to do some research (yep, they’re quail all right) to be sure. And last, but certainly not least, a bobcat (which I thought was the same as a lynx, but apparently is not, according to this website even though its scientific name is lynx rufus) sauntered right across the trail not 25 feet from where we were. It was obviously quite used to humans (lots of mountain bikers on these trails, remember?) and seemed to totally ignore our presence.

Other excitement (of the negative kind) during the day was provided by the news that a mountain biker had fallen and, as a result, had lost a finger (somehow got tangled in his disc break and got cut off) and the subsequent arrival of a hoard of emergency vehicles, park rangers and paramedics.

Finally, as we were leaving the wilder areas and heading to the end of the main trail, the elusive lizard finally made an appearance. My boyfriend quickly deployed his hand-made snare and voila! We were suddenly the proud (?) owners of a “blue belly” lizard. I have no idea if that is the official name, but he did have iridescent blue patches on his throat and belly.

He rode home quietly and politely in my hands (hey, I may love fancy shoes and make-up, but I’m no pansy when it comes to lizard-wrangling) and we let him go under the bushes in our front yard. I saw him sitting in the sun on the driveway several times the next day so he seems to be adjusting just fine to his new environment. We’re hoping he’s going to do a lot of bug-eating and help cut down on the local insect population a bit so they won’t keep trying to find their way inside my house because while I have no problem at all holding lizards or snakes, bugs are a whole ‘nother story ;-)

All of this “encountering with wilderness” left us all starving so it was back home to see if the backyard barbecue, which has been in hibernation since the divorce (having been primarily the domain of the male who previously occupied the residence), could be resurrected. After sufficient investigation (and major cleaning), it was determined that it could, indeed, be revived and heck, there was even still propane in the tank.

After the obligatory huzzahs and back-slapping, we proceeded to barbecue up some great steaks and burgers. I whipped up a green salad and some French fries (to make the kid happy) and we had quite a feast.

That was all on Saturday. On Sunday, I managed to sneak in some jewelry-making. But more about that later ;-)


Music: “Don’tcha” by the Pussycat Dolls (hey, couldn’t find any “bobcat” music – this was as close as I could get)

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