The Summer of 1980 was by far the hottest, evilest heat I've ever experienced. I remember that summer well. I was riding for Will Speck, the owner of the Draggin'-S brand down northeast of Bandera. The grass was brown and dry and brittle...Will told all us hands he wanted no smokes outside the ranch house so's to lower the chance of a sudden fire. Lots of the boys took up chewin' because of that "no smokes" rule, but it didn't last too long because we were all too dry to spit.
Anyway, one really hot, hot day I was ridin' the fence to patch up any breaks the stock caused from trying to get into the next field to look for moisture. It was miserable with hardly any shade except for this one old tree leaning out over the creek, which was now nothing but a dry creek bed. So I ease my horse--a pretty little mare called Dynamite Chica 'cause she was little but could blow up mighty big under a careless rider--I ease Chica down into the dry creek bed and we stop under the shade of that one tree. Well, I dismount and loosen the cinch to give Chica a bit of breathin' room and lean back against the rocky sides of that creek bed to wipe what little sweat I could produce from out of my hat. There were the usual noises out there, 'way off from town--the wind blowing through dry grass and leafless tree limbs, the whirring whine of the cicadas, all those were normal, but...there was something else I couldn't quite place. It was like something scraping on hard ground or rock, sort of metallic-like.
So bein' naturally curious I start looking around for what's making that noise. I figured at first maybe an old tin can was blowing around in the breeze, but the sound was from down low, in the creek bed, where there wasn't much wind. I keep looking and finally I saw it...something that made my jaw drop.
Comin' right down the middle of that rocky creek bed was one of those green and yellow and black striped lizards. And the scrapin' sound was sure enough metal on rock, 'cause that lizard was draggin' a canteen.
Yeah...that Texas summer of 1980 was sure enough one to remember.