He had found the place by accident one day when he was supposed to be studying lizards and their relatives. Mr. Black had let him go off by himself and Paul had spent the afternoon happily exploring a new part of the forest. The undergrowth was rather thick and he considered turning back, but always thought “just a little further,” until he came to the tree. It was a beautiful tree, with thick low-hanging branches covered in mosses and other vegetation. Clearly no-one had climbed it in recent times.
Paul hesitated only a moment and then hoisted himself up onto the lowest branch. He almost banged his head on the next branch, and quickly adjusted his position so that he could look upwards more easily. There were several strong branches that he climbed carefully, aware that all the vegetation might be hiding something or at least cause him to slip and fall. Finding himself in a secure fork close to the trunk he sat down and turned around to look out over what he expected to be more forest.
Instead, he saw there was a pond, and not just any pond, but an almost perfectly circular pond. There were a number of plants that looked like water lilies growing around the side nearest him. Across the water he could see a collection of birds swimming, some kind of moorhen he guessed. And he could hear all kinds of chirps and other sounds of birds and possibly insects calling out to each other.
One bird’s voice in particular struck him as especially beautiful. It sounded like someone singing a love song to their special mate, calling them to come and enjoy the afternoon together. Paul looked around but couldn’t see which bird was singing so delightfully. He sighed, wishing he had someone who would call out to him in such an attractive way. The only person likely to call out to him was Mr. Black, and that would be to remind him of his task!
That thought made Paul sit up. “I have to find some kind of lizard to bring back, or he’ll be upset.” He started to look, wondering where would be the best place to find a suitable specimen. As he raised his head to look upwards at the branch above, an eye met his gaze! The creature’s head was cocked a little to one side, which was why there was only one eye in sight, and Paul wasn’t sure if it had seen him or not. He looked closely and realized it was actually quite a colorful creature, although its bright blues and greens and reds seemed to act more like camouflage than to make it stand out. He could see a leg with several toes that seemed to be stuck to the tree. “Yes, you’re definitely a lizard type, a gecko I think.” he thought. “Now all I have to do is catch you!”
Paul shifted position to reach into his backpack and take out his specimen jar. Then he reached up and half grabbing half pushing was able to maneuver the reptile into the jar. Closing the lid he looked at it more closely. “Yes, you’re a beauty. Thank you for being so cooperative! I’ll just take you home to show Mr. Black. I’m sure he won’t get on my case when he sees you!” Paul put the jar in his backpack and climbed carefully down the tree. “Hopefully I can bring this little guy back in a day or so – I definitely want to come back here again.”
As Paul predicted, Mr. Black was quite impressed with his catch. He looked at it carefully and agreed it was some type of gecko. Since it was wide awake during the daytime they agreed it must be one of the “day geckos,” not the more common nocturnal type. They looked in their book of lizards but couldn’t find one that had exactly the same appearance.
Paul’s mother, on the other hand, was much less thrilled with his acquisition. She took one look and immediately declared it was not allowed inside. No amount of explaining and efforts to calm her down by both Paul and his tutor would change her mind. “Reptiles are not welcome inside!” was her final statement.
Even though Paul had not intended to keep the little fellow, he and Mr. Black were quite sad at the thought of returning it so soon. Mr. Black offered to take it to his house for the night and Paul could return it to its natural habitat the next day.
Copyright © Jennifer P. Tanabe, 2015