Camp Lizard Bowl
They say a picture paints a thousand words. So I’m curious … What words come to mind when you see this?
I’m guessing your word painting might go something like this: Eww. Gross. Creepy. Ick. Disgusting. But how shortsighted of you. This lizard actually proved thematically significant during a wonderful overnight camping trip in Klondyke, Arizona.
You see, this is a Clark spiny lizard, the likes of which I’ve never before encountered. I love new discoveries. So when I saw him floating in the bowl, obviously lured there by the easy pickin’s meal-on-water, I took a closer look. Then I realized, “Uh-oh. He’s not enjoying his dip in the man-made pool; he’s in trouble.”
Desert spiny lizards aren’t aquatic. So I scavenged for a stick (to ascertain if Mr. Lizard was even alive, or if he were simply doing the dead man’s float). When I sensed some pliability to his floating body – though he wasn’t blinking – I summoned dear husband. “Bring the shovel to the toilet, please!”
He’s used to my animal-saving adventures, so he was unfazed by the request. When he lifted limp lizard on to the shovel, I was sure he was a goner. Even though I saw flaccid Gumby legs, I asked hubby to put the little fellow in the sun, careful not to smoosh any delicate toes. “We’ll just see what happens,” I said.
We had lunch then headed off on a quad ride to the nearby Aravaipa Canyon Preserve with neighbors, Mark and Roxanne (They invited us on this adventure: our first-ever Arizona tent-camping trip. I know… really? First one? What have I been waiting for? Now I want to live there).
Along Aravaipa and Turkey Creeks, I was treated to series of exciting new discoveries:
Before the sun got away from us and chilled us to the bone (yes, we awoke to ice outside the tents!), we decided to trek back to camp. Cresting a hill in the road, we were greeted by the backend of a furry critter. Can you tell what it is?
As if the previous discoveries weren’t enough to leave me skipping down the dirt trail with the biggest of grins, we returned to camp and found this:
For Readers, Writers: I had hoped to experience wildlife encounters during this trip and certainly was not disappointed. But something else happened when we first entered the canopy of towering Cottonwood and Arizona Sycamores, their branches wrapped protectively over the dirt road like colossal arms.
I never expected a fictional character to emerge from the shadows. But there he was at 3,500 feet in the remote desert wilderness … standing on the edge of the road amid the lime of sunglow leaves. He wore a thick snow white Santa’s beard with his flannel shirt and camping vest. A tripod and camera clung to his side.
I’ll tell you … he teased me during the entire trip. I found myself taking photos of the abandoned houses along the creek, like this one, making each his home, with an accompanying story.
By the end of the trip, I had begun weaving together a history for the old man with the Wisconsin plates on the back of his Explorer, an old man exploring in the middle of a nature preserve in the middle of nowhere. Why was he there? What was his story? Well… you’ll have to stay tuned, because I’m only now discovering it myself.
Readers – do you wonder how authors construct and flesh out their characters? If they’re sparked by events like this or drawn purely from imagination? Authors – how do you go about crafting characters? Have they ever emerged from the shadows like a ghostly apparition?