Lizard Life


Say hello to Mr. or Mrs. Skink

As I drove out to the trailhead for my four-mile hike this morning, I was feeling kind of old. Maybe it was the truck’s fault. When I got there, I saw three other vehicles and nobody around. The driver’s side door squeaked loudly when I opened it. Slamming it shut made it go BAM wocka-wocka rattle tink.

Body-wise, I felt great, you understand. Bouncing on my feet. Tough. Ready to go. But a little less hip and more of a relic. A testament to inherited vitality and stupid fucking cheapness.

The hike was fine, I made good time. It was only about 75 °F but hot in the sun. There was a strong breeze and almost no clouds. Dry, then, so a cooling effect. You sweat and dry off at the same time. My new Patagonia boots are tougher and more cushioned than what I was wearing before, and I flew over the rocky parts.

About a half mile from the turnaround, I came across a rattlesnake. Just a toddler, this one, about eight inches long. Either it had swallowed something too big for it, or someone had stomped it behind the head, which wasn’t in such good shape, either. The poor guy was obviously doomed. Actually, I thought it was dead, but when I poked it with my stick, it turned over on its back and wiggled some. Not knowing what else to do, I left it writhing in the sun.

As I walked on, I had a string of second thoughts. Now that’s kind of cruel. Even if it is a dying rattlesnake, it’s only a baby. You could have just as easily flipped it into the shade, or better yet, dropped a heavy rock on it where it was…

So I decided that’s what I would do on my way back. If a raven or a buzzard hadn’t gobbled it up and saved me the trouble, I’d put the strange mangled accident out of its misery and redeem myself, too.

Naturally, I forgot.

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John Hamilton Farr lives at 7,000 feet in Ranchos de Taos, New Mexico, U.S.A. As New York Times best-selling author James C. Moore tells it, John is “a man attuned to the world who sees it differently than you and I and writes about it with a language and a vision of life that is impossible to ignore.” This JHFARR.COM site is the master writing archive. To email John, please see CONTACT INFO on About page. For a complete list of all John’s writing, photography, NFTs, and social media links, please visit JHFARR.ART  

  • Joe September 9, 2013, 8:53 AM

    For some reason when I look at that photo I think of my ex-wife.

    • JHF September 9, 2013, 9:27 AM

      Whatever works for ya! I aim to please around here.

  • kaye September 9, 2013, 10:21 AM

    yesterday, I saw a poor mangled cricket on the sidewalk, kind of wriggling. I didn’t kill it, I walked away and felt guilty for a long time! I shouldn’t have left it to suffer! Then I read this upon my return….didn’t feel as bad. We all grapple with life and death…. and is it my responsibility or do I let God take care of it?

    • JHF September 9, 2013, 11:38 AM

      Point of post is of course that humans have reptile brain (true) underneath layer of learned moral niceties. Acting out basic animal urges like hunger, fear, lust, etc. largely determines actions, no matter what.

  • christian ienni September 9, 2013, 1:06 PM

    2 things…

    1- humans are FAR more ruled by their base reptile brains that they ever want to acknowledge, let alone consciously admit, or heaven forbid try to compensate for. lizard brain reflex is what’s really responsible for so much of the misery humans inflict on themselves and each other.

    2- “BAM wocka-wocka rattle tink”… i want to actually hear that! you HAVE to get a recording of that and email it to me! i could have a lot of fun with that, running it through my synths, using it as the basis for a rhythm track, resynthesizing it in the modular or the V-Synth, etc etc etc… (ps: “MWA-HA-HA-HA-HAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 😉 )

    • christian ienni September 11, 2013, 4:32 PM

      the other idea would be to turn that into the lyric of a big musical number. “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is on right now… haven’t seen it in years, but suddenly realized “Bam Wocka Wocka Rattle Tink” could be a sequel!

      “Right!! Stop it, now! You’re getting too silly…”




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