You’ll never believe what lay on my doorstep this morning. I might have stepped on her if not for the contrasting yellows and greens that she wore. It was Tina Turtle.
Tina Turtle visits once or twice a year. She bushwhacks through the grass and bushes with lumbering steps. Last year she stretched her neck farther than I thought possible to reach a bell pepper dangling in the garden. Half an hour later, a half squashed pepper discarded between the blades of grass was all the evidence that she had been there. She was gone until she showed up again today.
Since it happens so rarely, Tina Turtle’s appearance is always a surprise but never as surprising as seeing her at the door’s threshold, as if she were coming for a visit. I studied her surreptitiously, not wanting her to retreat into her shell. Her legs bent in a curve more than in a hinge, like our knees, and her shell was decorated in geometric patterns with splashes of yellow. Her little house seemed taller than I last remembered. I carried the laundry basket into the backyard and pinned clothes to the line, which was my reason for opening the door in the first place. When I returned to the porch, Tina T. was already out of sight. I searched the flower beds and under hedges, but she was hidden or gone. The aunexpected rarity and briefness of her visits add to the delightfulness of her presence.
This spring I also spied a lizard, not the green anole that is so common, but a brown lizard that resembled a miniature dinosaur. I was not exactly warmed to see him but intrigued nevertheless. He scrambled a few inches, stopped and appeared to do push ups. Then a pink bubble grew from below his chin, a dewlap, which is a tell-tale sign of a male. Tiny scales covered his entire body. His belly resembled a bead purse with rounder and smaller scales tightly knit together. The scales on his back and sides formed ridges which extended down his tail.
Signs of wildlife always bring me a measure of fascination and joy, and the lizard brought his own variety. That is, until six or seven brown lizards skittered across my path to the mailbox, and again on the back porch when dozens of baby lizards clung to bricks, scuttled on the concrete and vibrated on the rose bush. A chill ran up my back. I’ve never seen so many lizards at once. Each passing day they seemed to multiply exponentially.
Why would one lizard be wondrous while a couple of dozen creep me out? Would I feel the same if I saw ten Tina Turtles trundling across the yard? I probably would. I remember entering a man’s house and being confronted by the eyes of dozens of cats on couches, cabinets, carpets and counters. My body still shivers at the memory, yet I adore my single cat.
Why does rarity give value when plenty cheapens and sometimes vilifies? This applies to shells on the beach, abundance of sparrows and even to people. It’s only when an individual lizard, shell or person is examined and known in detail that they are appreciated. I don’t see a lizard’s merits in the midst of dozens of offspring or the person in a crowd until I see them one at a time, like Tina Turtle on my doorstep.
Hmmm, I wonder? Who might I be missing on my doorstep now?
Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 1 John 4:11
By the way, help me name the lizard. What do you think? Larry Lizard? Leroy? Lizard Skynyrd? Something else?