I spent my toddler years in New Mexico, near the desert. I don’t remember much about our house, because I think I was always outside. If I wasn’t playing with our puppy, Fluffy, I was playing with the neighbor kids and their puppy, which was from the same litter and the off-spring of our prolific dachshund Ginger.
I also enjoyed collecting wildlife. The stereotype of small boys have pockets full of lizards and worms was completely true in my case. My favorite specimens were grasshoppers, which were fun to chase and hard to snare, and the ubiquitous horny toad, which I learn now is not a toad at all but a lizard. They were small, bumpy, and easy to catch if you knew where to look. I’d keep lizards and grasshoppers alike in a box for an afternoon and then let them go. I was just a catch-and-release hobbyist, and I imagined they wanted, too, to get home for dinner.
One day a man came to our Kindergarten class and passed around preserved snake corpses. He wanted us to learn what to avoid if we encountered a snake on or joyful marauding. We all took turns rattling the tail of the rattler. Of course I went out looking for one of those remarkable snakes, but fortunately for me, I never found one.
Where: Alamogordo, New Mexico
The picture above is by MotherPie on Flickr, and is used under the creative commons agreement.