The chatter came from above, it wasn’t the normal squirrel dispute. This was louder. I don’t speak squirrel, so I wasn’t able to translate. I could tell they were panicked. The warmth and fluff I felt at my feet let me know Betty was not involved, I was pleased with her show of restraint. It doesn’t happen often, she’s normally the first to fight. She gets that from me; apparently we’re both working to temper our impulsive nature.
I peered up to where the noise was coming from. Squirrels move a lot, so it took a while to determine the location of the thing that triggered the melee. They jumped, they squeaked, and they avoided a branch on the avocado tree. It was where they weren’t going that was telling. There, basking in the hot Florida sun, was a small iguana. He was a beautiful shade of chartreuse, and he knew it.
He moved slowly, robotically. The size of the talons at the ends of his legs looked very large as he inched toward the open air and the conclusion of the thinning branch. He was gingerly keeping his grip, even though it looked awkward. The branch bounced wildly. The movement wasn’t due to the tension of the added lizard weight, but the angry squirrel who bounced in protest near the protection of the trunk. The iguana didn’t seem bothered. I quietly admired his self control as I watched from below. Betty did too, it seemed that she’d momentarily surrendered her position as backyard bouncer to join me in observing what would happen next.
The absence of yipping and growling was replaced by another loud, startling noise. “Mom! Can you type in really cool, offroad truck driving games?” The boy was standing behind me. I was so focused on the episode of Wild Kingdom unfolding in front of me that I hadn’t heard him open the sliding glass door when he exited the house. I turned to him, trying to restore the quiet. His attention was focused on his tablet. Oversized green headphones were wrapped around his ears, he was unaware that he was yelling. “Can I have a juicebox and popcorn?” he bellowed, I thought for sure his voice would disrupt the creatures and their aerial turf war.
I gently lifted the speaker away from the side of his head, “Look buddy, look in the tree,” I whispered.
Whispering, like yawning, is a contagious human behavior. I don’t really know why. He removed his eyes from the glowing screen, and the Youtube video playing upon it.
Focusing on the tree he scanned the branches, “Why are we whispering?” he said quietly. I held in a giggle. This is normally the question that ends a hushed conversation, when there’s no reason for it.
“We’re whispering because we don’t want to startle the lizard,” I explained while diverting his eyes with my pointed index finger, and outstretched arm. “Oh, it’s Godzillard,” My brain, for a split second, pictured the head of Willard Scott on the body of a reptile. Yes, the visual is as disturbing as it sounds. “Godzilla,” I corrected. “No, Godzilla is the big, dark one that lives on the telephone poll. That’s Godzillard,” he corrected back, making sure to emphasize the “D” at the end. “Why are we watching him? Can I have popcorn now?”
I wasn’t aware that we had more than one very large lizard patrolling our yard, and although I might have chosen different names, I was thankful for his observations. I’m not exactly fearful of them, I just don’t want anything to do with them.
“I want to see what happens, he’s having issues with the squirrels. Do you think he’ll jump in the pool to get away from them?” I was invested in watching this, I wasn’t going in the house.
“Shouldn’t we stop the squirrels? It looks like they’re picking on him,” he’s very concerned with bullying these days. “We don’t get involved when animals have disagreements, bud,” I explained. “Yes we do, you have to stop Betty from trying to eat the kittens all the time.”
“Betty isn’t trying to eat the kittens, she just doesn’t appreciate their presence. Those animals live in our house, they have to get along.”
“Is it because they steal her toys?”
“I’ll have to talk to them about that. These animals live in our yard, though. Doesn’t that make them ours? Why aren’t we supposed to stop them?”
“Godzillard isn’t coming in the house, if that’s what you’re getting at. No, we aren’t supposed to stop them. They’re wild animals, and if we get involved they won’t be wild anymore.”
He looked at me suspiciously, “It’s something I heard on Animal Planet.” Thankfully, this seemed to be a good enough source for him.
This was quite possibly the longest conversation I’d ever had while whispering. As the boy, Betty, and I chatted…the squirrels became more brazen. The most vocal of the group started to advance down the branch towards the iguana. I don’t think squirrels are capable of much thought, but this one seemed to question whether it’s actions were a good idea. It would retreat back to the trunk, then hop down the branch again, with every trip it got a little bit closer. Godzillard did not react, he continued to calmly hold on while the branch bounced beneath him.
I had almost resigned myself to the idea that we had spent a very long time watching absolutely nothing when it happened, the squirrel had invaded Godzillard’s personal space for the last time. This time possibly touching him with it’s grubby little paw. Without even turning his head, he whipped his long, lime green tail in the air. The boy cheered, as his tail collided with the side of the furry being, launching it out of the tree. “Take that, squirrelface!”
Apparently, we were all on team lizard. Betty stopped watching him and bounded into the yard to inspect the point of impact. I imagine she was disappointed to discover that this was not her chance to further make an example out of one of them for their endless taunting and chatter. It’s ego might have been damaged, but it hurried back up into the canopy to avoid being a chewtoy.
Godzillard turned around and made his way back through the tree without further incident. He was only passing through, he meant them no harm.
“See, they worked it out on their own,” I said confidently, pretending that I had any idea on how this confrontation might end. I contemplated which life lesson I would parlay this into. I don’t know, I always have to have a lesson. It’s an annoying thing I do.
“Yeah, squirrels are jerks. I didn’t know that a lizard could play baseball, and..I don’t think I want to try to catch them anymore.”
I decided his take on the situation was sufficient. There wasn’t anything more I could add, we retreated into the house having had enough nature for the day.