I was greeted by a dead 25-pound iguana when I opened my front door to get the New York Times yesterday morning. It was a learning opportunity having this prehistoric creature available at such close range, but even still, sad and gross. The poor thing had frozen to death; unable to withstand the uncharacteristic frigid evening that had blasted South Florida the night before. It lay there upside down, little claws sticking straight up to the sky with its tail whipped along my crocus plant like another lost weed.
“Wow! This would be awesome for my animal-obsessed seven-year old son to see,” I thought to myself. How fascinated would he be to have an up close look at this precursor to one of his all-time favorites, the dinosaur?
But once I spoke the thought out loud I knew it to be a mistake. A mistake reconfirmed by my husband’s wiser shaking of the head.
How awful would it be? This child does, after all, fret over the fate of ants left to contend with water-spraying sprinklers, spiders cast away from their webs by menacing gusts of wind, and baby lizards separated from their mommies, (all these get “adopted” by him and named and he is always so sad and hurt when they ‘run away’.) No doubt this child’s fixation with all living creatures deems him a Buddhist, in his past, present, or future. Keeping that in mind, a dead iguana would deliver quick and irreparable trauma.
With that clarified, my husband did the kind and fatherly thing (bag it up and taking it to a trash far, far away) and I did the sensible and motherly thing (re-enter house with the New York Times, a smile, and act as if nothing happened.) And the day went on just like that. One little boy saved from sadness.
The only problem is that I had seen the iguana. And it was beautiful and bright green and glorious. And it was also dead. Frozen on my front lawn, you’ll remember. I’ve never really wondered about spiders or ants, or even those tiny lizards. There are so many of them sprawled outside (and inside) my house. But I couldn’t help think of the iguana. I know they run amock here and aren’t popular with Floridians. People take them in as pets then set them free in the Everglades and now they are all over the place, affecting the delicate eco-system there., But there was this frozen one, and, like I said: beautiful, bright green, and glorious and I couldn’t help but wonder what had been her last thoughts before the great freeze. There she’d be, Guani (yes, I’ve named her) snoozing on a tree, trying to survive the chill, wondering where she took the wrong left turn that led her north and not south and then, thump, dead on the ground the next morning. Was she wondering what bug she’d have for breakfast? Where to get the next sip of water? When Mr. Iguana was coming home so they could snuggle and keep warm? Would I?
Images of a rich vanilla milkshake filled me now. It made no sense really. Milkshakes are cold and if I was to slurp one up as an iguana I’d sooner freeze and drop from the branch. But milkshakes are also decadent and delightful and for that reason saved for only the most special occasions when they always make me feel better, no matter what. Even if what follows is a long, hard fall.
2 cups whole milk
4 scoops vanilla ice cream
4 ice cubes
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
whipped cream for decoration
In a blender combine all ingredients except the whipped cream. Pour into glass, top with whipped cream. Enjoy