In the dawn hours of “Lizard Day” at YMCA summer camp, I woke up so psyched I could barely lie still in my bunk. It was three days until my birthday – I would turn 13 on the 4th of July.
Lizard Day was a camp tradition. We kids spent the whole day chasing the very best lizards the pine woods had to offer. Over the past six summers, I had honed my lizarding skills to such a fine edge that I was positive I would capture the rarest and most elusive of all lizards, the blue racer, and win a feather of honor for my cabin-tribe.
I dressed and crept away into the woods to a stand of trees near the pond we swam in. Camp legend told that the racer could be found at sunrise on the 1st day of July. It was true. Within an hour I had my prize.
He was beautiful. He stared at me sadly through the glass, his freedom gone. In that instant, I knew what I had to do.
I had captured my childhood in a jar. I won the game and I knew it. I unscrewed the lid and let him go.
From then on, the legend of the blue racer only grew.