Where the Wild Things Are

by Jennifer on April 22, 2009

Here, that’s where. In the desert. In my yard. And one other prime location that freaks me out not a little, but we’ll get to that.

Before noon yesterday, I crossed paths with five lizards. Or a few lizards making repeat performances.* It was ridiculous, really. It’s not that I mind seeing them, or that they have the element of surprise in their bag of tricks, the way they blend in to their surroundings. (Where we’re intruding, I get it.) But it’s that scratchy sound they make when they skitter across the rocks in the yard or on the sidewalk that drives me mad. Like ice scraping against ice, or nails on a chalkboard.

On Facebook, I asked “Really, how many lizards must I see in one day?” And this lady answered with a rather arbitrary “6.” And wouldn’t you know, by the end of the day, I saw another one. Remind me to ask her about tonight’s Lotto numbers.

So, that covers the lizards. The desert was really starting to get on my nerves yesterday morning, and we haven’t even talked about the fact that it was 102 degrees. In April.

I couldnt get a good photo, so Im borrowing this one. They were this small, though.

I couldn't get a good photo, so I'm borrowing this one - ours were this small. Click to enlarge.

Later, I was walking around the side of the house when I heard some commotion coming from behind a bush. In the next moment,ย  a whole family of quail scattered right in front of me, the little ones (so small) dodging here and there until the mama rounded them all up again and the whole brood of them scooted under the gate and into our backyard.

Sweetest thing ever. I forgave the desert right on the spot.

And then (because you knew there had to be an “and then”) I left the house to pick up the kids from school. When The Girl got in the car and started telling me about her day, she said, “I only got one recess today because there was a rattlesnake on the playground.”

Annnnd the desert laughs in the face of my forgiveness.

So maybe people weren’t supposed to live in the desert, is what I’m thinking. Certainly not sissies like me, who can’t handle rattlesnakes on the playground at their kids’ school. I’m such a wuss. And to be fair, this is only the third time in five years they’ve found one on the playground. That I know of.

As another friend pointed out: “Wondering who looked at Phoenix and said ‘let’s build a metropolis HERE.'”

It’s a good question. And it’s Earth Day, but I’m won’t get on my soapbox. Just letting you know that where we live and how we live is on my mind today. The fifth largest city in the country doesn’t belong where water resources are so scarce – but no one really thought ahead about that, to this. To all these people. Before our housing development was built on these 2400 acres, I’m sure there was a beautiful hillside. And, yes, people need houses. But maybe we should put some more thought into where we build them.

It’s too late to locate this metro area somewhere else, but it’s not too late to convert our energy resources to take advantage of the abundant sunshine here. Maybe we all elbowed our way into this place – among the lizards and the quail and the rattlers – but it still comes with a responsibility. Living on this planet comes with a responsibility.

Oh look at that, I got on my soapbox. But who wants to bet there’s a lizard or two hiding underneath it? Probably six of them.

Oh, did I tell you? We saw the quail again later, twice. And counted fifteen chicks. Fifteen. You should have seen them. **


* No jokes about Liza-rd Minelli, please. Or Eddie Lizzard. You’re all better than that. (I’m not, but you are. )

** Promotional consideration for this post (hell, the whole day) was provided by Mutual Of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom.*** (I’ve never felt more like Marlin Perkins.) And by Corona**** (I had two).*****

*** I wish.

**** I really wish.

***** I really did.


UPDATE: And there was another rattlesnake on the playground today. Who’s got the number for UHaul?

{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

tysdaddy April 22, 2009 at 5:22 am

Closest I ever get to a snake is my local zoo.

Here in Indiana, I remember finding a tiny little garter snake in my yard. You’d have thought it was a rattler, the way I screamed like a little girl.

The hardest thing about being a Boy Scout was dealing with all the little creatures. Nature was never my friend . . .


Landon April 22, 2009 at 5:42 am

I loved this post! And on most days, I love living in the desert.
Happy Earth Day!


Indigo April 22, 2009 at 6:03 am

Reading this I couldn’t help thinking of the movie “Boys on the Side” with Whoopie Goldberg and Drew Barrymore. I remember seeing the house they rented in the desert and thinking I wouldn’t mind living there. It was an old Mexican adobe home.

On the other hand…snakes? Not so much.



Mrs. Chili April 22, 2009 at 6:14 am

Yeah; for all I complain about our winters (and Goddess knows, I DO complain), I recognize that the stupid-cold keeps the creepy crawlies at bay. We don’t grow things like rattlesnakes (or tarantulas, or scorpions) here in New England; there’s very little of the killer creepy-crawly around here. True, we’ve got ticks that can give you Lime’s Disease and mosquitoes that can carry off small children, but those things generally don’t require emergency room visits.


Chris April 22, 2009 at 6:31 am

I happened to see your Facebook comment string last night! Made me smile. My parents live near Pinnacle Peak and when I was there in January, I saw a bobcat, javelina, oodles of lizards and rabbits, quail, and a couple of coyotes. You’re okay though… don’t you have a sidekick like “Jim” on “Wild Kingdom”? ๐Ÿ˜‰


Jenn @ Juggling Life April 22, 2009 at 7:20 am

I was reminded we really live in a desert when my kids were younger and in one summer we found a rattlesnake, HUGE tarantula and 2 scorpions in the yard.

So true about the solar.

Jenn – Only one tarantula so far, and I lost track of the scorpions. I’m not going to say anything about whether we’ve seen a rattlesnake, or I’ll have to spend the whole day knocking on wood.


Kimberly April 22, 2009 at 7:24 am

Mark’s uncle used to live in Mesa and when we’d visit him, I’d stare in amazement at the cactus “forest” that came practically right up to his back yard. Then he’d start telling stories of rattlesnakes in his garage or scorpions in the kitchen and well, no thanks!

Here the biggest nuisance are the deer that eat my garden and the raccoons that tip over my garbage can now and then. I’ll stay put I think. ๐Ÿ™‚

Happy earth day, btw.


Gwen April 22, 2009 at 7:29 am

I think we still believe that our great and wonderful science and technology can conquer all. Even a lack of water. Even the desert.

Those baby quail are disgustingly cute. And I don’t even like animals. Or babies.


the mama bird diaries April 22, 2009 at 7:53 am

I would seriously die if saw a rattle snake.

What happened to the mountain lions?

Kelcey – They were probably eaten by the rattlesnakes. (Oh, theyโ€™re around. Someone I know watched one drink from her pool a few months ago.)


anymommy April 22, 2009 at 9:17 am

I have to admit that when we visited Phoenix trying to decide where to move, I kept thinking, people aren’t supposed to live here in these numbers, golf courses aren’t supposed to be here. I think the rattlesnakes seal the deal.


Tara Wermuth April 22, 2009 at 10:05 am

Well as a native of Arizona, I have to say I have never seen a rattlesnake alive in real life. I like to think the rattlers know I, like them am originally from the desert. I think its a joke that everyone I know who moves here gets their initiation with a visit or two {or three in your case} from one of those creatures. Hahahahhahah! {I’m sure I’m jinxing myself as I write this…} Loved the writing!!!


Jessica April 22, 2009 at 10:06 am

I love when people in CA talk about how these animals were in their yard when in fact these people built in the yard that used to belong to the animals.


Ann April 22, 2009 at 11:16 am

Ewwww, creepy crawlies.

Speaking of the sun and earth — what bugs me about living in AZ is how unaffordable solar energy STILL is…


jenrantsraves April 22, 2009 at 11:44 am

Lizards, quail, excessive heat, even those crazy weird looking animals (forget the name now) you have there – I could deal with all of that. BUT – If I even heard a rattlesnake was in my general vicinity I would have to start packing.


Kellie C. April 22, 2009 at 1:05 pm

congrats on your latest addition to the family. I bet they won’t ask “What’s for dinner?”


Green Girl April 22, 2009 at 2:13 pm

My sons would be in heaven at your place.


Madge April 22, 2009 at 6:15 pm

I’ve spotted two or three snakes in the backyard so far. not venomous — at least that’s what i tell myself.


Ree April 22, 2009 at 7:23 pm

Mr. Hot and I talk about cities being where they don’t belong all of the time. ๐Ÿ™‚ I can deal with lizards but Snakes on the Playground? Sounds like a really bad movie.


JCK April 22, 2009 at 8:50 pm

I like the quail. Lizards…Gekkos, ok. Snakes, not so much. So, I toast the Corona to you!


flutter April 22, 2009 at 10:12 pm

I love you.

I hate it here.

HATE IT HERE. I am having a moment and FREAKING OUT. But, we do have wild bunnies and quail by my house in spades….and they are pretty cute


Hatchet April 23, 2009 at 10:56 am

Jennifer, have you read Animal, Vegetable, Mineral? Barbara Kingsolver seemed to come to the same conclusion you did, although her path out was related to growing food in a state where water fell from the sky. If you haven’t read it, you might want to give it a whirl. It’s a good read.

BTW, I think AZ was built up based on a dare between railroad barons and land developers. Yup.

You know, Colorado has far fewer rattlesnakes. It’s also not up to 102 degrees. Yet. You should visit!

Also, I wrote a little something for/about you a couple of days ago here, but there are a few other posts with more pictures of Venice after that. Oh and yesterday features twin pics. They say hello!


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