The heart-shaped leaves of the cottonwood trees twinkle over the campsite.
Puffs of “cotton” swirl lazily to the ground. Soon the sun will set behind the Pahranagat Range across the lake.
I’m lazing also as I sit back in my lounger with an Audubon field guide to birds resting on the tray table, along with my monocular.
Reggie wanders on his tether nearby.
We have become well acquainted with a fat, brown-speckled lizard about six inches long who shares this campsite with us. Fat Lizard greeted us shortly after we arrived at Pahranagat Lake and since that time he has developed a game with Reggie.
Fat Lizard’s sudden appearance on the log at the shoreline signals . . .
In a strategic “fake” that Reggie cannot resist, Fat Lizard dashes toward Reggie and then zips back to home base, a log with one end submerged in the lake. Not only is Fat Lizard speedy, he also possesses the size advantage, and he knows it.
He can hide almost anywhere.
Reggie sprints into action. Fat Lizard races along the shoreline with Reggie in pursuit, and then he disappears under dead leaves. Reggie stares at the leaves with head cocked, waiting, poised to pounce, when Fat Lizard re-appears.
“Hey, I’m over here!”
Reggie lifts his head and charges, but Fat Lizard whizzes right past him, going the other way! Reggie pivots in a smooth predator maneuver, but his prey unexpectedly leaps into the lake!
With tiny feet a-kicking and spine a-wiggling, Fat Lizard swims out to a raft of floating, dead reeds. He climbs aboard, turns his head, and aims a taunting eye at his pursuer left befuddled on the shore.
Bow-legged Fat Lizard pumps his head up and down as his chest balloons and deflates — an end zone dance of victory, lizard style!
To see and learn about the varieties of lizards around here, go to this page at “Wildlife Around Las Vegas: Lizards.“
~ ~ ~
What the heck is THAT?
The small head of some aquatic creature slices through the water, a wake fanning out behind.
Is that a snake? Sheesh . . . .
I climb out of the lounger for a better look.
No, not a snake. That’s the head of some kind of furry mammal. A beaver? No. Maybe an otter? Could be. Kind of small for an otter though. . . .
He crosses the cove and dives underwater into the reeds.
I bet that’s a muskrat!
I’ll have to ask the folks over at the Visitor Center. Gee, I haven’t seen a muskrat since I was a kid in New York State. If that’s what it is. . . .
Our house was on a dirt, country road next to railroad tracks.
Many a summer day I would walk those tracks to the trestle, climb down to wade in the slow-moving creek, or stand very still to let minnows tickle my ankles and nip at my toes.
Sometimes I’d walk along on the bank and listen quietly to the creek’s murmurs like a best friend receiving whispered secrets. The creek would slow and deepen while turning a bend. I’d shed my sneakers and step out into the black pool, bending at the knees to bring water to my chin, my long hair floating around my face.
I watched, fascinated, as a water bug skimmed the surface.
After a swim, I’d climb onto the great, warm slab of granite and collapse with summery delight to dry my clothes with me in them in the sun. I’d recline, propped on elbows, squinting to follow the path of a dragonfly.
Occasionally, not often because it was a long walk stepping from rail tie to rail tie, I’d set out for the muskrat pond. As a diversion on this trek, I’d challenge myself to run on a rail, a feat requiring balance, eye-foot coordination, and a focus not long sustained.
The muskrat pond sat beside the tracks as convenient as a railroad depot.
Sitting on the rail, I’d wrap my arms around my bony knees and peer over them to enjoy the show of muskrats playing, swimming in circles, diving under the lily pads, and, if it were my lucky day, scurrying on land among the skunk cabbage plants where I could get a good look at them.
I remember one time . . .
I returned to our house and stepping onto the porch with my stomach crying out for supper — it must’ve been a weekend because Dad wasn’t at work — I heard him inside asking my mother and sisters, “Has anyone seen Susan? I haven’t seen her all day.”
P.S. You know, the more I think about it . . .
It probably wasn’t a muskrat. I’ll get back with you on that after asking at the Visitor Center. Whatever it was, it gave me an excuse to write my muskrat rambles!
~ ~ ~
Today is Tuesday!
Yay! My new computer is supposed to arrive at the Sinclair station in Alamo today. As soon as I bring that baby home, I’m going to download photo-editing software which means I’ll be able to post photos for you again!
NOTE: How about some happy, head-bobbing, smile-along music? Turn your volume up and click on the short YouTube video of The BOBCATS playing “Muskrat Ramble.” — Sue
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