Conversation with a Bearded Dragon

Tucker bearded dragonHe sits on a rock in his terrarium, eyes moving front and sideways to survey his environment. The tip of his tail hangs into his pool of water. Particles of shed skin litter the sand-like ground walnut shells substrate. Later, he will eat them. Tucker, the Bearded Dragon (Pogona sp.), consented to an interview.

His voice is low: Who are you?

I reply, “I am the grandmother of your person.”

There is another.

“Yes. Two of us, one from the mother’s line and one from the father’s. I am from the father’s.”

What do you want to know?

“What is your life like?”

Quiet. There is no danger, though I still watch for it. Food appears. I am given to contemplation.

“Contemplation?” I was genuinely curious. What do Bearded Dragons think about?

The meaning of life, movement of the stars, movement of the earth.

“Can you feel the earth’s movement?”

Oh yes. Tucker warmed up to our conversation. I know exactly where I am. If I were out foraging on the desert I would know, and navigate to my home place.

“How do you do that?”

I don’t know how it works, just that it does. It has something to do with how the earth moves, and the stars.

“Can you track the stars?”

Yes. I know where they are, and how they move. It’s a dance, like the dance of mating. But they never come together.

“That helps me understand, Tucker. Thank you.”

You are welcome.

That topic had concluded, and I changed to another: “Tucker, what is your purpose here?”

To companion the young person. I am quiet, yet full of surprises. Young people need a steady one such as I. and yet enjoy the mystery of surprises, of difference, while still a living being. I will be here as long as I’m needed to fill that role, or another.
I may be a model. My person is an artist, you know. The intricacy of my beard, my spines, is a fascination for her. She will create art using me as her model. I will like that.

I remembered an earlier conversation with my granddaughter, when she talked about her surprise and fascination to discover that Tucker’s spines, which appear so prickly, are flexible.
It was clear to me that Tucker is attuned to his surroundings, and his person’s talents and feelings. I asked, “Is there something you would like to have or do?”

I like the fresh green things. And more of the crunchy jumping ones [crickets]. They provide good nutrition, especially now that I am in shed. You notice that my skin sheds in patches, rather than all at once as snakes do. That is partly defensive. The green things and more crunchy ones, yes.

“Tucker, I will relay that. Do you have a message to share?”

Of course. Tucker changed position, turning so that his back was now closer to the heat lamp in his terrarium. Follow my example. Be aware of your surroundings, nearby and distant. Stay tuned to the earth so you always know where you are. Be who you are, regardless of your environment. I would be the same me out on the desert as I am here. Remember that each being has a part to play in the great dance that is life, and beyond. We are but a moment in the expanse of time. All is in constant motion.

I had a sense of the vastness of space, stars circling, the earth turning, time limitless and folding back on itself, on a scale too vast to imagine. And Tucker as a stable point of reference within it all.

“Thank you Tucker,” I whispered.

One of his gold eyes rolled forward to look at me, and blinked.

Tucker 2

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"Animals are such agreeable friends - they ask no questions, they pass no criticisms." - George Eliot
"The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated." - Gandhi
"There is little that separates humans from other sentient beings – we all feel pain, we all feel joy, we all deeply crave to be alive and live freely, and we all share this planet together." - attributed to Gandhi
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