Monday, February 18, 2008

Presidents and salamanders

I think about politics as little as I can.
And politicians, even less.

Their world seems to stand in such contrast to mine.
Their language scripted to represent what they want us to hear. They stand shrouded in words they hope we recognize to be what we seek, their bodies dressed to impress.
Seeking strategic friendships.
Each act contributing a piece to the image being built for their purpose.
It all seems so unnatural.

I’ve spent much of this day studying salamanders. A commitment to monitor my vernal pool has given me the realization that I know very little about this microcosmic place.
The books stand high on the kitchen table—pictures and pamphlets I’ve collected to educate myself about the creatures that live and breed in these waters.
So much to do, so little time to get ready.

The Jefferson salamander, I’ve learned, is a mole salamander similar to the spotted salamander, first discovered in the 1800's in Pennsylvania on the grounds of Jefferson College.
It is indirectly named after President Thomas Jefferson, an avid naturalist.

This most sensitive of all amphibians and reptiles to the impact of development, requires intact habitat of about 1000 acres in order to survive long-term.
A tender small being, I will most likely never see.
His world altered.

But it made me wonder what the world could be like if it were led by naturalists.

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Ruth said...

Jefferson Salamanders have been found in two areas just on the outskirts of our city. Because of this, the building of a long planned road and a residential development are hold while further studies are done. I am afraid the developers will win the battle though.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

I have never seen a salamander that wasn't in captivity. Your project will be fun to follow with posts being done about it. Good luck.

Seabrooke said...

Have you read Swampwalker's Journal? It's got some great accounts of searching for salamanders in vernal ponds in the early spring. Since reading it I've wanted to go out and try to find some myself in my parents' swamps, but have never been able to time it right.

BTW, thanks for the note regarding the broken link on my about page - should be fixed now!

Tom said...


Have you seen any activity yet? I was thinking that a few early species such as Jefferson's may have been out on a night like last night, before it got cold. I have heard that they can be found when there is still snow and even some ice out. Here in Columbus, there are fantastic vernal pools, but unfortunately, no intact wooded uplands or clean water. Our salamanders have long gone extinct along the Olentangy River.

Tom @ Ohio Nature

Sandpiper said...

When I was a little girl I used to find salamanders everywhere. I see so few of them now. I wish that were true of politicians instead. ;-) Interesting blog today! It will be interesting to read more about the vernal pool as the seasons change.

mon@rch said...

I choose to vote for the Jefferson's Salamander for president! Seriously, I so wish Al Gore would have run for president!

nina said...

Ruth--sad to say, but many (most!) weigh small and slimy vs. $$$$--hmmmmmm

Lisa--Ever since finding one on the back porch a couple years ago, I
ve wanted to find more--here's hoping!

Seabrooke--I looked it up and just bought it--sounds wonderful--and the author quite an accomplished naturalist/artist/writer! I can't wait to get it. Thanks!

Tom--I snooped around last night, in the 57 degree rain! None. And went back this a.m. before the temps dropped to peek into the water. Still no signs of life. But, last night I heard peepers again (about 6 individuals) and a
cricket frog!

Sandpiper--how can anyone not fall in love with a salamander! Cute face, little hands, vulnerable.

Mary said...

Salamanders are adorable. I avoid politics whenever possible. We need some naturalists on board, Nina - life would be a little more grand.

kate said...

I suspect the world would be an entirely different place - far more welcoming to all creatures.

Old Wom Tigley said...

These are things we see only on the TV... but we adore them.. I will enjoy learning more about them with and from you.

Selma said...

If naturalists were at the helm it would be a cleaner, greener world. We would be able to sing Louis Armstrong's 'What A Wonderful World' and mean it. If only.....

Eco Enthusiast said...

Very inspiring words--good respite from all the politics. Joan

Kathiesbirds said...

Nina, how I love to read what you write. You pull up tender memories for a fragile creature. Beauty in nature, it's what we all seek. I'd vote for a nuturalist, but they always seem to be out in the woods! Most would shrivel up and die in the unnatural world of the White House!

nina said...

Mary--can you tell we've begun to be inundated with campaign ads? Our primaries are in a couple of weeks. Then, hopefully, we'll have less of a barrage of politics!

Kate--yes! Can you imagine???

Wom--no salamanders in UK? Have they gone the way of the snakes?

Selma--Yes, if only...

Joan--I needed a distraction--salamanders are the perfect answer.

Kathiesbirds--you're right--DC would be a challenge for a naturalist--not the geographical area (it's wonderful!) but, the pomp and circumstance!

Travis said...

What great shots of the leaves. I really liked the way you captured these. They look amazing