Coffee Share 210320: Spring in the Backyard

This is a Weekly Coffee Share Essay.
I’m part of a small group of bloggers who stay in touch and chat about blogging, writing, or just about anything else that might be of interest.
Link to This week’s full list
Link to my Story Blog:  Table of Contents.

It was a particularly gray Sonoma County day early this past week when I ventured out to walk and enjoy whatever the yard held in wait for me.

We are fortunate to have a large enough yard that walking it actually provides several different opportunities for miniature adventures and views and encounters with nature here in our blurred edge of both suburbia and local agriculture, but this day, whew, where to start?

Okay, it was a very cold morning but, not really unusual for mid-March, but cold enough that standing in the direct sunshine, whenever it was available, was welcome.

We have a path that surrounds part of the house and I often just walk it to see what’s happening in the yard and today, the first find was our live rodent trap had caught something.  “Ah – what do we have here?”

I’m trying to catch rats, but we’ve not seen evidence of one for a couple of months. Still, I would consider it a public service to catch and dispatch one.  I climbed over a short hedge to check what it manged to capture this morning, hoping it was not another robin like it was another day (robins don’t do well in traps — they just panic and all but beat themselves silly trying to break free when you come close enough to release them) but today it was an old pal, the blue belly lizard I’d just caught last week.

“Dude!  What did you do — spend the whole night out here?  You must be almost frozen.  Let’s get you out and into the sun.” He barely moved as I lifted the cage and walked him back to the brick planter box.  He and I did this dance once before so I knew he was not going to just perk up and walk out if I left him and he really needed to warm up in the sun which had just carved a hold in the clouds.  So, I snapped a quick photo of him in the trap hoping to capture a view of his amazing blue belly (which really didn’t come out very well, but you’ll see it below) I carefully prodded him out with a stick — just like before. When he did leave, he stopped (again) on my knee to warm up that blue belly of his against my leg. 

When lizards are this cold, they’re not in much danger from hypothermia, but they can’t move as fast or as far as when they are warm and full of ready-energy. So, he sat there for a bit as I put the cage behind me and just enjoyed his sitting there like an old friend. His breathing was regular and obvious so I doubted he was in any danger there on my knee, but I did wonder how much attention he would tolerate so I moved my hand closer with no reaction from him, then closer and then closer still.  My third motion was enough for him to decide it was time to move and he sort of jumped down to the bricks and hid — closely in the shadow of my leg, out of sight.

Great, now if I bend that direction to see him, I risk squeezing him between the brick surface and my pants fabric.  There was a whole open planter box right there, but he chose to hide from me in a way that made no sense.  So I leaned the other direction and stood up.  He turned enough to see me depart and scooted down along the brick ledge some.  Good, I thought and continued my walk.  “Let’s talk later then.”

On my return, he was still sitting there, in the sun, which was fading behind the clouds again. but nearby there were the omnipresent blue jays which I suspect have an appetite for lizards.  “Hey BB (yea, I’ve taken to calling him ‘BB’) you need to get to the other side of the planter and your rocks.”  He just starred back at me. Hmm.

I thought, Okay, I’ll either chase or carry you over, but instead he started jumped away in the wrong direction and leaving himself more exposed.  Thus began the little drama of my trying to herd or catch him without moving fast enough to traumatize him.  I was never able to actually grab him, but only because he managed to jump onto my forearm (oooo – nice and warm, I could almost hear him realize) so I took the few steps needed to get back near his planter box home with the rocks that they often lay on when the full sun is out.

Suddenly, he was in my open hand and happy to stay there despite being right at the brick ledge he must know so well.  Fine, I thought.  You stay right there while I fumble with my phone camera and document this odd meeting.

So, here he is.  Tell me, how would you react if you found yourself with this little guy suddenly in your hand?  I can tell you that he weighs virtually nothing and if your eyes were closed, you would not be sure that anything or anyone was actually there. This in-hand shot did give me enough scale to do an indirect measurement and he’s almost 6 inches from tail-tip to nose.

I finally moved enough for him to jump off and go for the cover of his familiar rocks, so my day proceeded.

Later I transplanted the second volunteer ornamental cherry tree and stopped by to see how the lizards were doing now that it was sunnier and Cool! You have a friend, or mate so now I know there are two of you living behind our planter box.  “Hold still guys.  I want to get a shot of you two together.”

Here are both the new tree (sorry about the weak contrast – this was as good as it got) and my trap-experienced blue belly buddy with his newish friend.

Just now, I walked out to enjoy some of the Saturday sunshine and found both of them again, but this time at opposite sides of the planter.  You’ve tolerated several close up shots of my growing lizard collection.  Here’s what their brick patio and the rocks I’ve laid out for them looks like.  You have to look closely to see them, one at either end.

BBs n planter box 20210320

Each spring, the local gopher union sends out it’s teams to cause havoc to the local home owners and each spring I meet the challenge with my little jar of traps and various shovels.  At the first appearance of one of those dreaded gopher mounds, I dug my hole and set my trap. The onslaught was heavily manned (or rodented (?) ) but my traps and I have developed some special skills against the annual rodent hoard and after the latest casualty yesterday, the score for the past week stands at humans 0 and gophers 7.  There was a record breaking two days in a row that I took down 2 gophers in one day for a total of 4.

I will spare you the details, but even this excellent trap design does not make for a clean kill every time so some unpleasantness comes with this task.

Finally, late last week, I’ve been doing a certain quarterly project that I love at work since 2007, so going on 13 years now.  The past few months I had an idea for a big improvement.  The project deals with presenting a large amount of data in a way that is easy for our customers to understand and use to make a very expensive decision about patching security problems in out software.  So it’s even important.

My reviewers have loved the proposed change and I think my customers around the globe will too,  But I needed one guy to approve it because he owns the data presentation to all our customers so I need to keep him happy as well.

As things in this world often go, he was tied up and I had to stand in a long line for his attention but I was able to close last week out with his approval in-hand.  Both my co-author and management who pays for the production and distribution are thrilled with the improvement.

Such are the simple pleasures in the days of Covid-inazation. Between my lizards adventures, my second cherry tree, the gopher war carcass tally and my big project at work, I’ve had a great week and now it’s sunny outside and, “Oh look.  It’s time to check the gopher trap again.”

That’s it for me.  Thanks for stopping by.  I’ll be around to visit your share shortly.

Blessings all! 

GW bio card 4

21 thoughts on “Coffee Share 210320: Spring in the Backyard

    1. Hi MerriLee, had this happened in Montana, that little guy might well have frozen solid, but given California’s idea of cold, he’s still out there taking down flying insects for us. Hope you all are doing great and loving life.
      Thanks for giving this essay some of your time..


  1. Congratulations on getting your project okayed and implemented! Sounds like it will be a cost/time saver. Love your yard lizards, their photos and their stories! Best wishes for the week!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Youe poor lizard sounds sweet, bit short on problem solving. Its a good thing he has you to watch his back. Happy spring!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha – I think you made a good call Antoinette. The whole concept of that door which keeps closing on him seems out if reach, but sweet might be a reach.
      I bet I earn my keep by sharing body heat


  3. Hi Gary, I just Love your backyard adventures! I’ll call them the BB lizards adventures ~ haha, and cool you have another cherry tree. It was cool to see the size since it sat in your hand. We have small lizards here, not sure what kind but they are out in our yard too. Congrats on your work approval, that’s definitely rewarding! Have a wonderful weekend!! 🀠

    Liked by 1 person

  4. We usually deal with gophers with sticks of Juicy fruit gum… Not traps. Love the lizzies. I wouldn’t want them on my hand though. Glad BB has a friend.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Looks like you and the lizard have a thing going. Do you think he gets stuck in the trap on purpose so that he can have a visit with you πŸ™‚ ?
    We have our fair share of lizards but they have their spots in the garden and we’re all happy. The cats sometimes try to chase them but the lizards are just too wily for them.
    I thoroughly enjoyed reading about your week.
    Have a great week ahead.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Regina, thanks so much for stopping by. Yea, covid has put me almost on first name basis with these guys and that o e guy, BB, I think is getting fond of having a warm-blooded friend.

      I earn my keep with body heat. . .



  6. We used to have lots of lizard visitors in our yard at our old house, especially after the our cat died. Our cat Angel would do a daily reconnoiter of our backyard and keep lizards at bay. We did have the blue bellied ones too. Haven’t seen lizards here yet but there have to be tons of them in the desert.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I hate to admit my first reaction would be to toss it on the floor and stomp it, then burn the carcass lol to make sure it does not return as a Zombie.

    i am not sure what season its supposed to be now here…Hot Dry going to cold Dry as winter approaches

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Cute? ????

        Butterflies are cute
        Grape fruit rhyme with great fruit but they should be called gorrible fruit…
        And those things… Well they can keep the insect population at bay good for them 🀣🀣

        There’s a lizard that’s always on the window sill if I have phone handy I will snap it

        Liked by 1 person

  8. I don’t think I’d mind a lizard. oooooohhh…those pesky gophers…or for us, moles…my father in law sets traps. We put in a really nice fire pit, and where do the moles decide to try and come up…right under the pavers. So irritating.

    Always enjoy your posts and your visuals. Makes us feel like we are there.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Susanne.
      So good of you to stop by. Welcome!
      I do think these are attractive and interesting critters, but understand, I think why some are frightened by them. Some reptiles do bite and some of those with no legs even have fangs.
      Education and experience solves many of these issues and frankly, so does a sense of humor.
      I have two Transplanted cherry trees now. In less than a year I had blossoms on the first and hope the new guy proves to be as hearty. There are few things as magnificent as a mature cherry tree in full bloom.


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