Setting the Scene or Seeing the Setting

When I was eight, wandering around an old abandoned vineyard, I had one goal in mind: to capture an alligator lizard, alive. To do this, like an inventive Cave Girl, I fashioned a primitive tool, a slender lasso made from a reed, a reed I had jerked out of Stiver’s Lagoon.

Curling the end of the reed into a quarter-sized circle and slipping the tip through the stalk, I seduced the noose: it softened and curled into the implement my fingers had formed.

My friend Sissy and I walked along the trail, into the vineyard, our ears attentive to the slightest rock-rustle that lizards make, our eyes scanning the dead black stalks and hot large rocks for the furtive movement of startled creatures.

Hot is part of the setting when hunting lizards.
Dusty, Still, and Quiet set the scene.

Like a patient old cat, poised beside an earthen tunnel, hoping for the slightest movement, I too, waited by a small pile of rocks, my little hands holding my reed and testing the tension as if I were deep-sea fishing.

An unsuspecting alligator lizard darted up a post, unaware of the danger.

Faster than Bronco Billy’s, my lasso, open and tense, two feet away at the end of the reed, closed and caught. The lizard’s body moved from side to side, like a frenetic pendulum.

Sissy whispered, “You got ‘im.”

photo by Rob Mezzetti 2008 “The Napa Valley”

About Cheri

Writer, artist, cable television host, grandmother to four!
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12 Responses to Setting the Scene or Seeing the Setting

  1. John Oscar Atkinson says:

    Cheri, this piece took me back to my boyhood when I use to catch doodle bugs with a straw. In the summertime I’m still tempted when I see a doodle bug hole in the ground. Neat fun even for an old man. Thanks, Timekeeper

  2. nutuba says:

    Wonderfully descriptive! I felt like I was there, waiting for the lizard to appear.

    Your use of the word “tension” is perfect … the tension of the noose, and the tension of the scene itself, waiting for the lizard.

    I loved the comparison with testing the line while deep sea fishing … I have spent hours and hours doing just that. I knew exactly what you were saying there.

    I liked this!

    Cheers and Regards,

  3. Laura Jayne says:

    What a wonderful post. When my son was little we would go on lizard hunts. Made me so smile to remember that. You capture the hunt perfectly.

  4. Argentum Vulgaris says:

    Took me back to being a boy, chasing lizards, catching cockabullies in the creek, up to our thighs as we crossed the swamp in the nextdoor property… Boys-stuff! My mother would have had kittens (her favourite saying) if she had known half the things we did.


  5. Jeanie says:

    Those were the days.
    I remember leaning over our backless stone seat with a neighbour’s four year old daughter. We watched a wood louse climbing up and down the glistening rocky canyons of our shingled garden path while the sun beat down on our backs. We played out imaginary reasons for it’s long arduous treck in the heat of the day. She is fourteen now but remembers that day as though it were yesterday. A moment of magical imaginings as we spent a wonderful few hours together one halcyon summer day.
    Those are moments when life is carefree and timeless.
    Just like your scene above.

    I enjoyed my visit today.
    Many thanks

  6. Dina says:

    I love the picture and the story. Every time I read one of your stories, I gain valuable insight as a writer. I feel like I have the pleasure of being one of your students. Thank you.

  7. Sunny says:

    What a nice piece! It took me back to the days I hunted butterflies.
    Thank you for sharing.

  8. Heather Mirassou says:

    Hello – I feel as if I know your heart. Do you remember tasting the sweet, sticky, sap from the grapes right at harvest? The spell-binding aroma for the harvest? Running in the irrigated fields in bear feet; mud, sand and rocks filling your toes full of goodies?
    Foun this via Blogger, Happy to know ya!

    With a Smile,

  9. Chourou says:

    Hi Cheri. Your posting this time reminded me of when I was a boy, having absorbed myself in capturing geckos or wall lizards hiding between house blocks. In Japan, a wall lizard is called yamori(やもり).”Ya” means “a house” and “mori” indicates “to protect somthing” in Japanese. In Japan it has been said that a yamori is a beneficial creature, protecting your family from evil things. But I was chasing them in my boyhood without knowing a kind of legend about them….

  10. Cheri Block Sabraw says:

    We all have commonality, right? From East Coast doodlebugs to cockabullies (?) to English wood lice to Japanese geckos; well, it seems that we were all busy trying to catch them. Now after they were caught, what did you do with them?

  11. Christopher says:

    This piece, and the youthful recollections of the commenters, are through the viewpoints of hunters and catchers. How did the prey feel, I wonder?!!

    • Cheri says:

      I have never been prey, I don’t think…:)
      I’ll have to interview one of the 75 wild turkeys on our property to see how they feel when they are hunted.

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