Saturday, March 20, 2010

Cuando Los Lagartijos Corren

One of my favorite books to read growing up was Tiger Eyes by Judy Blume. In it, the main character, Davey, meets a cute older boy while hiking in a New Mexico canyon. She notices the lizards scurrying around the rocks, which is a new thing for her to see, having just moved there from the Northeast.

Later in the book, the boy, Wolf, tells Davey that he has to go away for a while. When she asks when he’ll be back, Wolf thinks for a moment and then says, “Cuando los lagartijos corren.” Davey doesn’t speak Spanish and has no idea what this means. “Look it up!” Wolf tells her. So Davey writes it down as best as she can remember, and takes the phrase to the Spanish teacher at school to translate it for her.

He tells her it means when the lizards run.

Davey then realizes that it means Wolf will be back in the springtime, when the lizards come back.

Growing up in Florida we had tons of lizards in our yard. They would dart out from a hundred hiding places whenever we’d walk down our driveway. Now that I live in my own home, I’ve grown accustomed again to watching the lizards that perch on a ledge on my front porch, warming themselves in the morning sun that heats up the stucco. Each season there’s always a few lizards who claim my potted plants for their home, and I see them every morning when I come down for my coffee. We look at each other through the glass and have a staring contest to see who will blink first.

We had a particularly cold winter in Florida this year, and everyone has been praying for spring to show up. For the past three weeks or so I’ve found myself checking the front window for tiny beings perched on the ledge. The azaleas are blooming and the oak trees are bursting out with new leaves, but no lizards.

Until this morning! Today, on the official first day of spring, I looked out to the porch and saw a single tiny being scurrying into the hedge. Soon enough they will be running everywhere, darting out from underfoot, leaping from leaf to leaf, and doing those crazy push-up mating dances they do. Spring is here, my friends! Bienvenidos, los lagartijos!

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