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Florida Lizards

Florida lizard

07.02.2005 - When I was a small child, I loved to collect reptiles and amphibians. The sight of a mere toad filled me with a sort of brilliant and breathless thrill that winning the lottery today would not nearly match. It'd be hard to describe just how much, at my tender young age, I longed to catch and possess the creepy crawly critters of the world, particularly if they were covered in scales.

So at the age of four years old, my family took a vacation to Disney World Resorts in Orlando. During that trip, I made all sorts of innocent four-year-old discoveries, such as the day I dug a deep hole on the Seven Seas Lagoon lake, hit the layer of dark Florida mud below the imported beach sand, and ran up the beach screaming wildly about how I'd struck oil.

While my parents love to grin at this story years later, I felt a far greater surge of excitement when, at the base of a tree in EPCOT theme park, I saw a small lizard. I practically had a heart attack. I'd never seen a lizard in the wild before. I'd caught many of the other types of reptiles and amphibians in my life - frogs, toads, snakes, turtles, salamanders, but an honest-to-goodness lizard, now that was an exotic treasure beyond my wildest dreams. I longed to have that lizard in my hands or a jar or box, to study it, and to just possess it, more than I can remember wanting anything. I entered full-fledged Hope Mode with a slight sense of panic.

I slowly edged toward the glittering gem before me, innocently perched on the base of the tree, hand ready, prepared to lunge for all I was worth with the swift grasp that had captured so many crawling creatures before. Then, in a flash, the lizard darted away, into the undergrowth, and it was gone. Just like that. I felt numb, and my heart sunk. I'd lost my chance at a one-in-a-million rare treasure. My dream had slipped away. For the remainder of the vacation, and for many years after that, I thought about my lost opportunity, the Lizard that Got Away.

Then I moved to Florida as an adult, and found out that the things are more common than cockroaches.

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