How time can move us on. Day to day it often feels like nothing changes. Down here in the heat of a North Carolina summer the pace feels languid. Things move along slowly. Not much happens.
Well as it turns out, not really. I was gone for two-plus months and a lot has changed!
In May and June as I walked to and from the mailbox at the end of the drive I observed my fence lizard...there...not there...but mostly always there. A reliable friend to pay a visit to. She was almost always out sunning herself during the hot hours of the day. Never before 10 am, though, and not ever after 6pm. Almost always reliably there in nice weather at 1pm.
She was fun for me to visit and I missed her while I was away. As soon as I got back, I looked for her at the gate. Not there... and I have not seen her once since. Gone. That's my fear and my best guess. This essay may be her obit. I hope it is not.
How gone? Is she dead? In a snake's interior? Dead of a fire ant sting? Starvation? How long does a fence lizard live anyway? Or has she possibly left to find a new home? Has she been chased off by a skink? Has she moved on? I wish I knew.
I miss her intelligent stare and curious head cock. She had presence for such a small creature. She struck me as both observant and content upon her section of fence. Why would she just leave?
She left without warning.
She did leave something behind though. Or should I say someone? She left a baby fence lizard. He has his mother's stare and is always at the gate when the sun is shining. I think he is determined to stay there. He's been in at least one close call already, even though he's only about an inch long and less than 3 months old. A good chunk of the end of his tail is gone.
I should have named him “Stubby Dude” in honor of his mother Dudette. Instead, I call him “Little F” for little fence lizard.
I love him already and though I miss his mother I am delighted to be able to continue my walks to the gate to check in on a resident fence lizard.
The other day I was visiting Little F. He was staring back at me when a baby skink pounced or fell from above. Little F was so fast. He darted out of the way. Little F appears to have very good instincts and reflexes.
Was this a skink attack or a baby skink blunder? I've noticed two little skinks on Little F's section of fence. Are skinks and fence lizards enemies? Do they vie for the same resources and residences? The baby skinks are not on the fence as often as Little F is. They have been seen a few times. I wonder if Little F will be able to hold on to the section of fence as they grow. I am hoping he will have a good long stay. But things can change.
Down the road a mile lives a white burro. Three months ago he was new to his pasture. All he wanted to do was go back to his old home. He stood all day long by the fence along the road. He wouldn't interact with his new pasture mates, a mare and her foal. It seemed like he was glued to that spot.
Now he has accepted his new home and friends. He's joined them in the pasture and no longer waits alone by the gate.
Before I left, I never noticed his persistence to go home waning any. It must have been, though. Each day his new home and new friends must have been slowly growing on him. He must have been gradually spending less time at the gate and more time with his new companions, until one day the urge to go to his old home was gone. I didn't notice this.
Things have changed so much in the 2 and a half months I've been away. Changed so quickly when day to day nothing seemed to be changing. Nothing happens overnight. Changes are happening slowly all the time, we just sometimes can't see them in their subtleties. An absence will magnify change.
Now I will watch closely, get better at spying the subtleties of change. Try to catch change in its less abrupt forms. Keep an extra observant eye on Little F. Perhaps I should have been able to see some sort of changes in his mother that would have indicated his arrival. Now I will watch carefully for any warnings of his departure.