Out of nowhere, it jumps from some unseen tree onto the hood of my car. It freezes, unable to make a controlled movement while accelerated by the four-cylinder engine inches beneath its feet. Standing motionless as if frozen by the basilisk it vaguely resembles, its tiny body, buffeted by the wind, becomes a living, breathing hood ornament.

I stop at an intersection and it tiptoes warily up the hood, its agility and soft footsteps befitting a creature born to spend its life chasing insects. Momentarily in awe of this diminutive daredevil, I realize its motivation: a smooth surface of black steel, warmed synergistically by the distant sun above and the humming engine below, must be quite a pleasant place for a cold-blooded creature to bask and re-energize.

The car accelerates once again, and my uninvited guest shudders. It doesn't seem that the little lizard will be able to hold on for much longer. Dismayed by the thought of such a magnificent animal falling helplessly into traffic, I pull off the road into a parking lot. The lizard remains still.

Slowly, I climb out of the driver's seat and walk around to get a better glimpse of the heroic reptile clinging for dear life to the smooth metal surface of my car. It breathes heavily, each intake of air nearly doubling the volume of its lean body. I cup my hands, moving slowly and then suddenly. My clumsy bear-like paws would ordinarily be no match for its quickness, but it's near exhaustion. I've no wish to harm it, of course, but curiosity compels me to hold it in my hands, just to touch it for a moment before sending it on its way.

I carry the trembling lizard over to a wooded area and set it gently in the grass. It takes a moment to gain its bearings and then scurries out of sight.

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