One of my favorite blogs is: “Old Fools Journal”, and out of curiosity, or some primal urge to scourge myself like Los Penitentes, I decided to Google ‘Bayou Blue’, his home town, not to dream but to get a feel for where he lives. Just as I expected he lives near a lot of water. I’m sure it is not the water we have here in the dismal, dark, mouldy, mossy, acidic northwest, but a vigorous, warm, exciting, living kind of water, filled with life, good and bad, the amniotic liquid we spent the first few months of our short lives dreaming in. And seeing so much water on the map, and what looked like a lot of sparsely or uninhabited swampy land I was transported back to my early teenage years in El Monte, California, where I collected, studied, bought, sold, traded and talked snakes, lizards, turtles and other reptilian wonders with youthful dedication. What a treasure house I thought. It’s impossible now of course, and perhaps rightly so, but in those days, the fifties, I could buy, sell and trade these magnificent creatures with little or no government or environmental criticism or interference. I would exchange printing (my father owned a print shop where I realize now I caused more grief than happiness) for reptiles. I would print, at my father’s expense, even occasionally, on the difficult jobs, getting him to do the printing for me, the business cards, letterheads, envelopes and brochures that were required, and then, exchange those products for leaf-nosed, shovel-nosed, glossy, and various rattlesnakes. And the lizards: Collared, Leopard, Chuckwalla, Skink, Spiny, Iguana, Fringe-toed, Whip-tailed, and the Horned. I treated them all with the deference I would have accorded a brother. At times I would trade these desert specimens for more exotic specimens like Gray, Red and Yellow Rat snakes, various water snakes, hognose snakes, racers, coachwhips, king and, my favorite, the Indigo snake, all from the southeast. I even hatched snake eggs in my bedroom, which, despite my concerted effort at force-feeding with milk-soaked ground beef, or bread, never survived for more than a few weeks. I took no more snake eggs in trade. Perhaps it is good that in the thirty-seven years we have lived here I have never seen a lizard anywhere near. Or are the lizards trying to tell me something?