I did not make up this story! On a Friday night in August, I returned home after a long week at work with visions of a glass of wine and a simple appetizer dinner dancing in my head. I walked into the kitchen and noticed that the grate on the range hood was fractured and moving. I dismissed it as nothing and briefly thought about replacing it as I rationalized that it was catching a breeze from the air conditioning and creating an irritating flap. Imagine my hysteria when I realized that the grate was not moving randomly but rather with a definite and purposeful rhythm. At that point, all rational thought fled as I froze in fear and contemplation of the possibilities lurking in my range hood. Clearly, there was a living creature in there. Was it a rabid bat? A mouse? An insect? A kangaroo rat? Survival eclipsed fear and I regained conscious control of my extremities. I decided to face the creature and brought a flashlight to bear on my worst nightmare. As the light slowly arced through the cavity behind the grate, I began to make sense of the images imprinting themselves on my disbelieving brain. There was in fact something in the abyss and it was alive. I slowly focused my disbelief on the lazily blinking eye of the reptile. Against all odds, a Chuckwalla had found its way into the confines of my range hood.
Now you might ask, what exactly is a Chuckwalla? Well, it is the second largest lizard in the United States and it lives in the Sonoran Desert. It really looks a lot like a dinosaur, and is so large that it walks like an alligator instead of a lizard. Needless to say….our range hood is history and unfortunately, our Chuckwalla also met an untimely end despite our best efforts to pry him out and return him to the wild. The details will be left to your imagination. So, now I have a hole in the wall above the stove and our family has added another tale to the family lore…the Chuckwalla in the kitchen.