"Is it real?" a customer asks, a mixture of curiosity and squeamishness etched in her expression. A large lizard lounges leisurely on the table that the patron is approaching.
"This is Rosemary. Would you like to pet her? She is very friendly," I offer using a well rehearsed reply.
"Does she bite?"
"No," I reassure. "She is quite used to people and loves to be scratched right here behind her ears."
"Ears! Where are her ears?"
"On either side of her head," I respond pointing to the holes behind her eyes that are covered with a tissue paper-like membrane. Next, I scratch the lizard's head so that she stretches her torso upward and closes her eyes. The customer prepares to touch Rosemary with a tentative finger, still not quite sure it's a good idea.
My iguana seems unfazed in unfamiliar surroundings here at the Adirondack Reader, a quaint and cozy bookstore in downtown Inlet. Her "Mona Lisa" smile reveals little of her opinion about being away from home today, but her easy going temperament lets me know that she isn't stressed at all.
I have brought Rosemary to my first book signing since the launch of Finding My Way to Moose River Farm at my home the week before. We are set up at a table where several copies of my book are displayed. The bookstore is a welcoming oasis from the rainy drizzle that forces Labor Day tourists to seek shelter, a cup of gourmet coffee, and perhaps a good Adirondack read. Store owner, Reggie Chambers, directs patrons, particularly children, to the table where Rosemary waits on a bath towel in front of small stacks of my book.
I have brought her as evidence that the characters in my book are real. Although many of the animals have passed away, Rosemary represents one of the oldest and presently, our longest residing family member. She has survived several large clutches of eggs, extreme temperature fluctuations, and the loss and regeneration of her tail.
"She feels like a beaded belt," the customer reports after touching the lizard, bravely. Her hand now relaxes as she permits all of her fingers to caress Rosemary's head. The tight expression on the customer's face is replaced with a smile. She begins to identify with the iguana as a fellow living being.
"What does she eat?"
"Leafy vegetables, grapes, zucchini, cucumbers and tofu. This morning she had a scrambled egg."
"How old is she?"
"I have had her 19 years so she is about 20."
"What do you keep her in?"
"She roams around our house freely, but has a heated cabinet she can climb into to get warm."
"Where does she go to the bathroom?"
"On my kitchen floor once a day or every other day."
"She is so interesting."
"Yes, she is, thank you."
|Book singing with Rosemary is a great pleasure!
|After a long day, we all snooze on the couch. Our Dachshund Huxley is the 'lump' under Rosemary. Hayden is behind my right leg. Nina, (left) and Niles hover above.