I knew this little cold snap was on its way, so me and my little dog Bobby, we took my bare feet walking in the warm on Monday. There’s a trail through the piney woods down at Weeks Bay, and I know it’s foot friendly for feet without the callouses of a real barefoot man. Like Henry Stuart who I wrote about in my novel The Poet of Tolstoy Park, he took off his Wellington boots and left them off for more than twenty years.
For a couple of hours Monday, I left my shoes at home. Kind of a weird feeling to be in the car going someplace with not a pair of shoes, not even hidden away in the back. Just in case, you know. But there we were. And it was, after all, worth the risk of a briar in my toe.
Mother Nature appreciated a man showing up shoeless and laid out a surprise for me. Showed me a creature I’ve never seen before, but one that’s live hereabouts for all my years.
I almost stepped on it. And I might have had I not been watching ahead in the pine needles with a little more attention for my footfalls. When I saw it, there was that instinctual “zero at the bone” Emily Dickinson said she felt when she would meet a “narrow fellow in the grass.” I thought it was a snake.
When my marrow came back to 98.6, I discerned it was not a venomous snake. Still, it was not a snake I’d ever seen. So I got closer, bent way down to look it in the eye. I reached for my trusty picture-taking pocket telephone. And not only will it behave like a camera, it’ll also go into some odd cyber mode and tell me what I’m taking a picture of. Google with a lens.
The image on the screen was animated by little winking dots for half a minute, then it shifted to a new Outdoor Alabama screen that let me know I was looking not at a snake at all. I was seeing an older adult Eastern Glass Lizard. A grandparent of these piney woods. I was honored to make the acquaintance.
Here, I’ll just let you read over my shoulder:
DESCRIPTION: The eastern glass lizard, Ophisaurus ventralis, is a legless lizard that can reach lengths of 42 inches. [Ours is that long.] Of that, the head and body can reach a maximum length of 12 inches. An old adult may be greenish above and yellow below. [Ours is that color.] It is the only glass lizard that may look green. They are easily misidentified as snakes, but have movable eyelids and external ear openings [And a handsome face]…They are stiff to the touch and like other lizards the tail breaks off easily [I might’ve freaked out]. The tail is quickly regenerated and is usually lighter in color… When handling a glass lizard, one should grab the body of the lizard firmly, not far behind the head to avoid being bit [okay, so it bites, and I would’ve freaked out], and lightly grasping the tail to avoid breakage.
PS: Bobby stepped right over the glass lizard and didn’t even see it. His country kin, those squirrel dogs in Pickens County, would be embarrassed for him. And I’m relieved and mighty glad it was not a copperhead!