11.03.2014

gardens and geckos

Our trees needed to be trimmed. That’s how it all started. Funny, how one project can lead to another, and another, then another . . . .

When we bought our house twelve years ago, there was a hot tub deck in the back yard. Since we didn’t have a hot tub or have plans to acquire one, we dismantled the deck and used the lumber to build a tree house for our young son (and me, as it turned out—but that’s another story). Most of the pavers, bricks, and pea gravel that surrounded the deck were used to form a small patio garden. The remaining bricks were stacked against the house awaiting my next inspiration.

The inspiration never came.


Recently, as we were preparing for our tree trimming session, we decided to tidy up our back yard. Our plan included removing the unused bricks and extending the patio garden’s pea gravel further into the lawn where the grass wouldn’t grow. All was well, until . . . .

I learned that the little geckos I occasionally saw, both in and outside our house, had turned the stacked bricks into a condominium site- a fact I was unaware of until I began unstacking the bricks. It was a fact my little dog, Coco, was unaware of as well.

This discovery left me with a dilemma-- remove the bricks or leave the bricks? I really needed to remove the bricks, but I felt uncomfortable about disturbing this newly revealed habitat. My first thought was to relocate the geckos to another area that would provide similar shelter (a reasonable choice, I assumed, since the little creatures had thrived since their move from the Mediterranean eons ago). On the other hand, I mused, if the location I had in mind was suitable, they would have been living there already. After a prolonged internal debate, I initiated relocation efforts, successfully transferring two geckos to a new site.


As I moved to the next stack of bricks, I became aware of another potential problem. The aforementioned Coco had evidently undergone a “Jekyll and Hyde” transformation, turning from my sweet little companion into what appeared to be a possessed, predatory Peek-a-Poo.  No amount of “shooing” would discourage the gaze she had upon the remaining stack of bricks and darting geckos. Cognizant of this newest threat to my gecko population, I issued a stern verbal reprimand that sent Coco skulking into the house. Assessing my options once again, I decided to leave a small stack of bricks against the house and move on to my next task, when . . . .

I turned around to see my lovely little canine back at the brick stack, having successfully captured a gecko that had ventured too far from the condominium grounds. As I stood there watching Coco, happily munch upon her prey, all the quotes regarding “good intentions not being so good” began to flood my mind. I didn’t realize geckos were listed among the five main food groups for dogs. 

I resumed my previous relocation efforts.


While I regret my gardening endeavors caused a bit of habitation havoc, I’m grateful for the lesson I received. It’s easy to forget that even a simple act can alter the rhythm of the natural world. Habitats can be disturbed and destroyed and new predators introduced when we become unaware of the subtle workings of the world around us. I suppose it took three geckos and a small dog to remind me of that delicate balance.


Postscript: The next morning, I was granted a moment of grace, or perhaps an additional opportunity for reflection, when I saw a small gecko scampering up the brick wall in our patio garden.  As I drank my coffee, Coco by my side, I found myself thankful for little creatures, both predators and prey. Perhaps, as Julian of Norwich said, “All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well.”

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