Leaping lizards, moon beams

Published 9:35 pm Saturday, March 21, 2009

Mama was certain about two things — that no man has ever walked on the moon and that little green men do exist.

She would look up at the bright yellow, full moon and discount the lunar landing and the credibility of our government.

“You can’t tell me that anybody has ever been way up there,” she would say. “You can’t believe half the government tells you. Why, they probably had television cameras set up out in the desert in Arizona or New Mexico and faked the whole thing. We wouldn’t ever know the difference.”

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We teased Mama that she could believe in little green men and not believe that a man could ride a rocket to the moon.

“But I saw the little green man with my own eyes,” she would say.

Mama told the story of the little green man so often that she almost convinced me that he was real.

When she was a young girl, she was walking across a pasture to school. It was springtime and the grass was green with wild violets giving added color to the landscape. Mama was skipping along enjoying the sunshine and the scene when, out of nowhere, appeared a little naked, green man. He was standing there on two legs looking right at her. She looked right back at him and he took off running and disappeared in the tall grass and bushes at the edge of the pasture.

“Mama, it was a lizard,” we’d laugh and say.

“It was not a lizard,” she would say. “Don’t you think I know a naked man when I see one?”

I had no knowledge that would qualify me to answer that in the affirmative so I would just laugh.

When she told the story to the grandchildren, they were fascinated by the story and eager believers in the little man from Mars. When we would go for walks in the pasture, they would always be on the lookout for “the little green man that Granny saw.”

Then one night, the truth came to light.

Mama, Sis and I were on the way home from Dothan. Somewhere between Ozark and Brundidge, a vehicle pulled beside us and, as Mama would say, sat down on the horn. Before we had time to look over, the truck whizzed ahead and cut in front of us. And there, in the bright beams of our car lights, were three men’s bare behinds.

Startled, Sis leaned up from the back seat and Mama peeped down through the windshield.

In a flash, and none too soon, the truck zoomed out of our beams.

For a minute, we were too shocked to speak. Mama got her voice back first.

“What it the world was that?” Mama exclaimed. “What was it?”

“Moons, Mama!” we said. “Those crazy men mooned us. That was their bare behinds.”

“Well, I’m 60 years old and I’ve never seen anything like that,” Mama said, absolutely astonished.

“We thought you knew a naked man when you saw one,” we laughed.

After that, we joked that Mama might not believe that a man had walked on the moon but she knew about the man and the moon.

Oh, how I miss Mama and the fun we had and the laughter that we shared.

The spring brings renewed memories of Mama, especially on walks through pastures dotted with wild violets. One day I might just see her little green man.

It’s amazing how something as seemingly insignificant as a wildflower or a scampering lizard can bring back yesteryear as close as yesterday. What a wonderful thing, these stirrings of the soul that come with the new beginnings of spring.

Jaine Treadwell is the features editor for The Messenger. She can be reached at jaine.treadwell@troymessenger.com