Monday, October 09, 2006

The last geckos of summer

Sadly, the day after Memorial Day, we put our last remaining greyhound down. In the span of twelve months, we had lost our family of three of these most gentle and loving retired racers.

Pony had been our first to arrive. She was the last to leave. She had come to us straight off the racetrack over 6 1/2 years ago and, we can honestly say, of the dogs who've shared our lives with us, Pony was the quirkiest, most headstrong and independent of them all.

The last year of her life was spent as the editor of this blog, keeping me grounded while electrons formed words on the computer's screen, Po', often with legs kicking, churned out laps on the track of her youth on the loveseat beside me. In her thirty-two tries, she never won a race. That's because she was too busy winning off the track.

The four and one half months since "The Po's" departure, things have seemed a lot emptier for me and Mrs. Dada. I stopped cursing the minor league baseball team's pyroclastic fireworks displays on Friday nights. Without The Po', thunderstorms once more became awesome instead of awful. (I much preferred when they were awful and TV's and radios would blast throughout the house to shelter ol' Po' during a storm.)

But in time we learned of transference, of seeking out substitutes upon whom to heap our love. The birds in the backyard were the first to reap the benefit of Po's absence. These days, if you look at the dining table just beneath the large window overlooking the backyard, you'll find a pair of binoculars stationed there permanently now.

Neighborhood dogs discovered during walks also became additions to our new family. After all, we had to do something with all those cookies Pony had left behind. And there was the July trip to Oregon where we met or reunited with dogs of the family. And there were the dogs at the beach. Lots of dogs!

Somewhere in between the birds and the dogs there came the geckos. Always on the front and back of the house beneath the outdoor lights, we began noticing geckos on the bathroom window when we'd shower each night. Attracted to the light, it became another feeding haven of bugs beckoned by the beacon.

We began observing these guys every night. There was one that really stuck out from the others and concerned us. We thought it was suffering some abdominal abnormality. My first thought was it was induced by something in the environment perhaps. But a little internet research revealed "it" was a "she" who was just very pregnant with two geckos!

We began leaving the bathroom light on after dark each night. Then one day in July, we made a big mistake. We washed the windows outside. The geckos disappeared from the glass (as pictured above) and we really missed them. Deciding perhaps the window was too clean for our little friends to gain sufficient traction upon was confirmed one evening when a moth out on the glass, just a little over a geckos length away from window's edge, was spotted. As a gecko appeared, zeroed in on the moth, it placed its two front feet gingerly out on the slippery surface. Suddenly it lunged for the moth. But the moth was just out of reach. I watched in shock and laughter as the gecko cartoonishly slid down the glass out of sight.

Shortly after that episode, the guilt of washing that window became too much to live with. At my wife's suggestion, we ventured outside, hosed the window and then peppered it with handfuls of dirt! Voila! In no time, we had our geckos back.

And now, months later, the evening window population has grown from 2-3 geckos in June to 7-8 here in early October! I'm sure that's because there are several generations currently sharing the glass. But due to leave for Taos tomorrow, we realize every autumn day with these little characters (and they ARE characters!) could be our last.

For five nights, there will be no light left on for them. And if it turns cold, the geckos will be gone upon our return. But I'm hopeful there'll still be a few mild nights left us when we get back.

As with the birds and the dogs, the geckos have reminded us there exists creatures other than man with far greater sentience than our own. Too much of ours is wasted killing each other. I only hope when we ultimately succeed in eliminating every last man, woman and child in a hailstorm of bullets and bombs, we will have left a few birds, dogs and geckos. Life is too precious to squander so flippantly.


D.K. Raed said...

cool ... geckos ... and you got to see little babies! dirty windows are a small price to pay to see these guys in action. I just read they don't exactly hibernate when the food supply dwindles ea winter, more like enforced anorexia. But people who raise them INDOORS as pets say they still must observe the annual cycle or the geckos get wierd. So they withhold food & lower the terranium temp & nature reins supreme! If they're not at your window when you return, you'll know they're just observing their natural cycle. in fact, you probably helped ensure a higher % of winter survivors by fattening them up so they could better withstand their annual anorexia!

Just saw Ted Turner on C-Span saying he gives mankind 50/50 odds of being extinct in 50 yrs. Bison-eating-ted-turner! But my money is still on the insects as inheritors of the earth. sorry dada, I think geckos skin is too porous & dogs would miss us too much (bastards that we are, they still love us). we could probably watch the birds wink out first, though, being the proverbial canaries-in-the-coalmine.

More & more I'm coming around to seeing all I can do is love the natural life around me (which fortunately does not include the unnatural life forms surrounding bush) & hope to pass on that love to those that follow.

Wishing Mr & Mrs Dada a wonderful trip! ~~ D.K.

azgoddess said...

have a beautiful trip...

i have geckos outside on my porch...20 or 30 of them...just love turning on the light at dusk and keeping all of the inside lights off...

if i get real brave, i'll go outside quietly and sit -- they skitter away and then forget i'm there...and it's better than any tv program...

Nona said...

That is so cool that you dirtied your window for the geckos.

Speaking of canaries, our population of backyard birds is down this year. Gone are the finches with their pretty songs.

Last year our yard was full of finches and this year, only chickadees, titmice and hummers (and the usual Stellar and Scrub Jays and doves).

Last year we could hardly keep the feeders full. This year, not so much.

We miss our little friends and hope they'll come back next year.

dada said...

Hi Nona: Wow, wonder where the birds are this year? Do you have any theories?

Speaking of dirtying the window so the geckos could return to it, did you hear a month or two ago they're working on shoes or something that will allow people to walk up walls? It's a technology based on gecko's feet.

But no matter what, if a gecko gets in our mailbox (under the front porch light), they can't get out. This is particularly tragic on those days when the mailman delivers those numerous catalogs. But I must happily report, I've never found a smushed one yet down there. (I have to take the mailbox off the wall and let them out.

dada said...

raed. (I'm going to have to ask about this new name one of these days.) Yes, I fear what you say is true. About the geckos, birds and dogs vanishing, most likely leaving cockroaches to inherit the Earth. Thats ok, however, they have more character those who will destroy us.

dada said...

az: I agree with you re how entertaining these little guys can be. Tonight, I was a tad late with their florescent light. (Got preoccupied, prepping for the trip tomorrow.)

So checking later, there's only one little guy out there. Checking later still, I see he left. It's like he was missing his buddies I guess. And what a rotten shame, cause we have a bumper crop of those little green winged bugs that seem to be the staple of their diet.

They are, however, out on the front porch. I just waved my finger in the face of two of 'em by the porchlight.

D.K. Raed said...

haha, dada, i'll elaborate on the name when you return. something to look forward to, eh? one clue: think saxon idiot king. ~~ D.K.

enigma4ever said...

Hey there Dada- this post was so lovely- and that you and the Mrs have so connected to all of the Animal world around you....and carried on nurturing as you healed after Pony.
I am so amazed about the geckos- I knew nothing about them ( I just thought they sold insurance)...I loved that you dirtied the window for sweet...( and you were provding them a resturante- and you didn't know it...)

meldonna said...

El Bano del Geckos! I like it.

And don't feel bad...some of the best cuisine is seasonal. The geckos know it, too.

Have a great trip.