Our horned toads—the Desert Short-Horned Lizard—give live birth. Or rather, they incubate shell-less eggs in their bodies, and give birth to a litter of six to thirty-one (thirty-one!) infants still in their amnions, little marbles that break open into horned toads ready to run.
On Sandia Crest I came upon what must have been a recent birth, a fat adult with a salmon-colored chin and a handful of babies the size of bumblebees.
From a faded pamphlet on Navajo folklore I learned that a horned toad can make an arrowhead by choosing a stone and running around it. This is why you’ll sometimes find an arrowhead where there was none before.
A day both cool and warm. Hazy clouds, pumice sand underfoot, soft wind hushing in the ponderosa. The water of Peralta Creek was icy with runoff, milky with pumice dust.
We bushwhacked up a box canyon full of oak brush and wild roses; I bled furiously. Strong smell of skunk or weasel. A swallowtail butterfly in erratic flight, bright yellow among the worn boulders.
Caught the first horned toad of the year: a fat one, with salmon belly and yellow side-fringe. About the size and heft of an Oreo cookie.