Lizard Dreams: All We Are Yet to Be

Snazzy Collared Lizard
Snazzy Collared Lizard | Source
Collared Lizard with tail draped over small rock
Collared Lizard with tail draped over small rock | Source
Handsome male Collared Lizard
Handsome male Collared Lizard | Source

In my view, there are so many beautiful images that could have been selected for the cover of the "National Audubon Society Field Guide to the Southwestern States." In the 1999 edition, which is the one I have, there are more than 1300 photos, 9 maps, 16 charts of the night skies and more than 100 drawings.

I can't tell you how many times I've looked at the cover over the years, as I have reached for this wonderfully rich resource to identify a bird, a butterfly, a snake, a cactus, constellation, cloud formation, or some other wonder in our natural world, about whom or which I wanted to learn. Whether flora or fauna; invertebrates; vertebrates; our Solar System; habitats; geology or topography; or something about weather. Since living in New Mexico I have developed a keen appreciation for all of the information packed into this small, colorful, detailed volume. As a photographer, I marvel at some of the images, and appreciate the many contributors whose dedication enriches this reference book.

The front jacket of my edition has four photographs: Claret-cup cactus; Prairie Dog; Collared Lizard; and a Gilded Flicker. Until yesterday I could say I have taken photographs of three of the four subjects on the cover. But until we acquired this 50 acre property atop a Mesa, I had never seen a Collared Lizard. One of the blessings I most treasure about living here is all of the wildlife I am seeing for the first time. Recently this includes a Tarantula; a Diamondback Rattlesnake; and a Tarantula Hawk (in the wasp order); a Western Whiptail Lizard; a Collared Lizard; a Ferruginous Hawk; the Common Nighthawk; and Pronghorn Antelope.

Yesterday was another gorgeous, sun-splashed day in the Land of Enchantment. And much to my delight, I was able to take my first photographs of a female Collared Lizard. The image on the cover of the Audubon Guide is of a male. Male Collared Lizards are much more colorful than females, which is often the case in nature, and I am hoping to photograph a male next. Nonetheless, I am grateful and delighted that this beautiful lizard allowed me to photograph her.

Collard Lizards are stunning and they are part of the Iguana Family. As my book mentions, these lizards are 12 inches in length, with the tail being longer than the body. There are "...many races; highly variable in color and pattern." The first time I saw one running, I was taken aback because he seemed to be moving above the ground. Thanks to my field guide, I learned that these lizards can run on their hind legs. Fascinating.

Whenever I have a sighting or significant interaction with one of God's creatures, great or small, I like to look at the book, "Medicine Cards: The Discovery of Power Through the Ways of Animals," which gives an interpretation of the symbolism of certain animals and what they represent. According to Native wisdom, Lizard represents dreaming, and is the medicine of those who dream. In "Medicine Cards," Jamie Sams and David Carson explain, "Lizard medicine is the shadow side of reality where your dreams are reviewed before you decide to manifest them physically." Dreams live in the shadows, and Lizard goes where the future lives. We are taught that dreams have meaning and significance. Dreamers help us see our shadow. "This shadow can be your fears, your hopes, or the very thing you are resisting, but it is always following you around like an obedient dog." It might be something we are hesitant to acknowledge or embrace; or it might be "your future trying to catch up to you." I find that the desert is an ideal place for lizards and their lessons.

Life is teeming with more than that which appears within the splendor of nature and the vast reaches of our world; much more than is seen or seems to be. So it is good to seek to discover, examine, and ponder. What is in your future? What are you dreaming about and hoping to physically manifest? Are you paying proper attention to your dreams?

"Lizard...will you dream with me? Travel across the stars?

Beyond the place of time and space, There live visions from afar."

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