Much to my delight and sheer luck, I happened to be staring right at her. I had paused to take a break while I was working on the computer, my time free for the night to do what i chose. Unfocused and blankly staring i saw her odd knob of a head and something click in my brain. Bizarre is a word that isn’t quite all encompassing for the situation.
I live in Baltimore, Balt-O-more… Balmer… and if you’ve been here and walked the streets, you will know that it is not exactly lush. We have carpets of concrete and trash that rolls down the sidewalks like so many tumbleweeds. Cars, exhaust, construction dust, sirens, drought stricken trees, and a harbor that rumors to leave anyone daring enough to take a dip in it’s murky waters, hospital bound. So, when you are staring out the window of your four storied apartment… staring blankly with only half a thought behind your eyes, the last thing you would expect to see is the head of a baby 1" long lizard staring right back at you. Your reaction is not, "oh, huh, a lizard." Your reaction is, "What the @#^%* is that?!?" or maybe, "Holy @$^%& , Jebus, Mary, and Joseph!"… I digress.
Sequentially, the next question (and this is of coarse after you’ve stood up for a better look only to see a hop, scurry, scurry, skip, flip… Pause) is to ask, "how the hell did it get here?"
Well the short answer (or as short as i can fathom to make it) is that this little booger is a survivor. SURVIVOR! There are no lizards native to Baltimore, none what-so-ever although there are a few out and around the state of Maryland. Even if there were, what kind of Lizard is going to climb four stories up an apartment building to reside in my Plant. A tiny little scaler like that? Doubtfully.
No the answer, as unlikely and impossible as it may seem is that this little gal caught a one way ticket from florida, with the tree. You see, this is a female Brown Anole (females have white stripes on their backs, males black) a species of tree climbing predators native, not to florida, but the Bahamas. The fact that they are so wide spread over the southern tip of florida now is probably due to such unlikely events as this one.
As many of my friends know, I have recently taken a real interest in bonsai and the ability to cultivate and keep trees in such a wreck of a city as Baltimore often makes me smile. I love growing things and I grew up in a place with trees abound. Currently, I own a Giant Sequoia, a Coastal Redwood, a Pomegranate, a Japanese Maple, and… This Dwarf Jade (or Elephant Plant)… All of which have been shipped to me from various parts of the country.
Now let’s stop for a moment to consider what this baby Anole (I need a name) had to go through to get here. First the original cultivator, placed the bonsai in a box securing it with mounds of tape to the boxes bottom protecting the soil from spilling. His next step was to fill the box with packing peanuts to keep the foilage from being damaged. And I do mean filled. When it arrived here after two days of shipping, I had to pick packing peanuts out of the banches and from between the limbs. I did this in the living room and once i had finally cleaned the tree of debree I proceeded to take it back to my room 20 feet away to place it in the window sill where it has resided for a good month now. All of this time, this little girl has clung like a gargoyal to a facade… And all of this time i never noticed her… until just yesterday. I water this tree everyday, and though I haven’t trimmed it, I had spent a reasonable deal of time analizing it.
In my mind, this is her tree, not mine. It is her home and she has clung to it through quite the journey… and survived. She reminds me of the tree spirits from the Miyazaki film "Princess Mononoke". You know the ones? They appeare when a forest is healthy… and in droves. And anyone who would see this little one scamper up and down the trees (i put the jade out with some of my others) can’t deny her gollum like appearance.
Suddenly, I am a child again, just like that. One evening I am staring blankly and then I am creeping up on a tree to watch silently, striving not to be an intruder in my own home. There is a sort of magic to this and I am a chid again and I am picking up a baby bird. I am picking up a baby bird fallen freshly from the nest, catching worms, mashing them up with peanut butter, and feeding them by hand. Live little girl, to run and float about my trees like some shadow of their brush. How I hope she lives.
Update: Unfortunately she’s disappeared, perhaps startled one day when i was watering the trees.
Tagged: , anole , bonsai , jade , Lizard , baltimore