Last week when cleaning up in the shed, I found a tiny lizard corpse in the bottom of a bucket in storage. Over the weekend, while working in the garden, I came across a bucket next to the redwood planter with three lizards very much alive. I felt like Mr. McGregor stumbling upon the sleeping bunnies in The Tale of the Flopsy Bunnies, "One. Two. Three. Three leetle lizards." Though I had no intention of skinning them to make a coat or sell the pelts for tobacco.
The big one with her right front arm on the head of the littlest (note missing tail. Eaten by the other lizards in a fit of Donner hunger?) was the most spirited, catapulting her body half way up the bucket. I tipped the bucket over and she bolted sheltering under the carpet of oak leaves.
The other two stayed in the bucket longer. The smallest with the missing tail was the last to leave. She steadily walked to the edge of the bucket and exited slowly. She stopped ten inches away from my crouched body.
She turned her right eye to place me. We watched each other in silence for about five minutes. I reached out and touched her unflinching body still dusted with dirt from the bucket. Alive and free.