Tuesday, February 28, 2012

S is for Salamander Hunting...

2 Lined Salamander
Spotted Salamanders always seem to smile
Some of my favorite childhood memories involve being in the great outdoors in springtime. The springs here in the Midwest have always been some of the prettiest I have been privileged to experience. One thing that always signaled spring for me (other than spring peepers) was a call from my childhood friend, Greg, asking if I was ready to hunt for salamanders. Greg had this God given gift of truly understanding reptiles and amphibians and their interwoven relationship with the woodlands around them. A herp whisperer as it were. He always knew when and where they could be found. Being pretty much the tom boy, I was more at home in the woods and creeks than just about anywhere else. Needless to say, our friendship was a close one.
 Spring rain. That's what I waited for. That first warm, gentle, rainy, March night. That was the perfect time for frogs and salamanders of all shapes and sizes to cross those winding country roads, heading for creeks and ponds to breed and lay their eggs. Our game-plan was well thought out. We would carefully drive, trying not to run over anymore unsuspecting little travelers than earthly possible. Whenever we spotted  a large group on the road, the object was to swerve off to the side of the road, check quickly for traffic, and dart across the road grabbing as many frogs and salamanders as our hands would hold, and make it safely back to the car where we would place our newly collected little friends in mason jars, or empty cool whip containers. The next day always consisted of planting elaborate terrariums to serve as temporary homes until they were again released into the wild. It has been ages since I've gone on a spring salamander hunt, and my daughter has been begging to go for years.  So, I sit here this warm, overcast, almost March evening, and reminisce over springs gone by and adventures made, and wonder if my best friend, wherever he happens to be, is remembering too?

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