A World of Watchers

Every once in a while, Facebook likes to remind me of posts I’ve made in the past.  The other day, I received a notice of a post I’d made four years ago when I caught a juvenile Six-lined Racerunner (a type of lizard) while weeding in my garden.  The photo made me smile.

So many times when I’ve been alone outdoors, I’ve felt very much not alone and as though someone is watching me.  At first glance, one would never see just who is watching, but by spending more and more time in nature, you begin to see the eyes, sense the movements, or find the clues of others that are nearby and very much aware of your presence, even if you don’t always see them.

The story behind the Six-lined Racerunner is that for a few years, whenever I’d be working in the vegetable garden, I had the sensation of being watched, or I would see something darting about in the perimeter of my vision. I would turn to look and study things but never find that thing I felt was near.  Then one day, I spotted it, basking quietly among the zucchini vines. 

At first, I was unsure what I was seeing. It seemed a bit snake-like around the head and with its’ little stripes and coloring… like a baby snake. But then it moved, and I saw legs. I realized it was a lizard of some type.  It was about 4 inches long and moved like a bolt of lightning. My eyes tried to follow it, but it was so fast and blended in so well that I quickly lost sight of it.

Once I’d seen the lizard, I looked for it every day.  More and more frequently, I was able to find it. Somedays, it was confusing because it would be on my right, then suddenly on my left.  And then it dawned on me that there was more than one. 

Over time I must have sighted between 4 and 6. All seemed to be about 4 inches long. But then, one day, while clearing leaves from a nearby flower bed, I removed a clump of leaves and exposed an adult pair in the act of mating. They were perhaps 6 inches long and more mature than the others I’d seen –maybe the parents of the others.  I learned that they were burrowing beneath the corners of my raised beds and no doubt were doing their part to reduce insect populations in the garden.  I grew to love the little family of lizards living among our vegetables.

My husband and I have lived in our new city home for just a wee bit more than a year. Even though we have started gardening,  in our new location, I still miss the flowers and garden residents at our old home. I was grateful that Facebook reminded me of discovering the lizards not so long ago.

There were so many hidden watchers I discovered there over the years. Finding them requires time, sitting still, listening, watching, and soaking in your surroundings.  I recall seeing snakes and baby bunnies hiding in the grass, sphinx moths among the flowers, and the occasional walking stick trying hard to blend in with its surroundings.  Each discovery was like finding a hidden nugget of gold.

I have a new E-book in the works that will be coming out soon. It is titled, WHAT WILL YOU SPY WITH NATURE LOVING EYES? It’s about the creatures that live hidden all around us and features photographs I’ve taken over the last several years of hidden animals. The book illustrates camouflaging techniques used by animals and provides tips for deducing what kinds of animals might be in your vicinity. I hope children will love it. I know watching for who might be watching me is a favorite game I play whenever I spend time in nature. Honestly, we are never alone.

Coming soon: my newest E-book, WHAT WILL YOU SPY WITH NATURE-LOVING EYES?

Published by littleseedsread

Hello, my name is Julie Lerczak. For over twenty-five years I worked as an educator in a variety of art, history, and anthropology museums in Illinois, Iowa, and Virginia. Then, for the last five years of my career, I was an environmental educator. I am now retired and am pursuing my dream of being a children's book author. I am a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. I live in Illinois with my husband Tom and our rescued pet turtle "Tootles." When I'm not writing stories I enjoy gardening, painting, making pottery, beekeeping, photography, hiking, and traveling.

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