The rising sun lights up the blue underside of an male ornate tree lizard as he does pushups on a large granite rock along the Gooseneck Trail in McDowell Sonoran Preserve in Scottsdale, Arizona in August 2019

With a pounding headache and growing nausea I had to chuckle as I walked down the trail that this would be a sunrise best enjoyed sitting on the back porch beside the pool, except that having done only one other short hike the past month it felt good to be out on the trails. Between allergies acting up and being tired I chose an easy short hike close to home, a section out on the Gooseneck Trail, with my planned turnaround the first big rock formation. I reached the rocks at sunrise but didn’t find anything to shoot, if I had been feeling better I would have found interesting plants and patterns in the rocks but the creative part of my brain was moving at half-speed, to be generous.

After a long drink I put my bottle back in my bag and prepared to leave when I noticed a stick on the rocks beside me. The stick started doing pushups and I stood frozen in confusion as I’ve seen a lot of sticks and this is not typically how they behave. There was a beat. Two. Three. Four. Oh right! A lizard! I slowly and steadily moved a smidge down the trail so I could photograph him and thankfully he did another set of pushups, the rising sun lighting up his brilliant blue belly.

I headed back up the trail with lighter footsteps, forgetting for a moment the headache and nausea, feeling for just a moment that perhaps I could extend the hike. With the rising heat I wisely decided that discretion was the better part of valor and I headed back to the car and a lie down on the couch. From last weekend, this weekend I didn’t manage even a short hike, though the afternoon swims have been refreshing.

Life in Miniature

An ornate tree lizard (I think) clinks to the vertical surface of a granite slab on the Piestewa Peak Summit Trail in Phoenix Mountains Preserve in Phoenix, Arizona

An ornate tree lizard (I think) perches on the vertical face of a granite slab, the jagged top a miniature of the mountains that surround. We met on my first visit to Phoenix Mountains Preserve on the Piestewa Peak Summit Trail as it flitted about the rocks, each unique in appearance. I was especially delighted when it returned to this one and arched its tail to match the curve of the granite. I was not as deft on the rocky trail and didn’t make it to the summit, there was a place where the trail got a little too narrow and triggered my fear of heights.

Oh little one, that I could climb as you climb.