Saturday, March 12, 2011
Another cold, clear night passes.
The day warms with sunshine until the mild air smells sweet. In the driveway, while curls of steam rise from the broad evaporating pan, gallons of maple sap steadily boil their way to become the prized amber syrup.
Beside the pool, the tangle of coarse weathered grass has become soft.
By evening, a warm rain begins to fall.
With each step forward as I walk with my light, glistening earthworms brought to the surface to bask in the rainy night retreat hastily, disappearing to the safety of the softened ground.
And from beneath earth that lay frozen and buried beneath months of winter snow, from the woods they walk, crossing roadways, crossing lawns…stepping through my garden.
The spotted salamander, Ambystoma maculatum, is one of the species of mole salamanders that lives underground for 50 weeks of the year, returning to vernal pools in the springtime for a brief 2-week period of breeding. These nocturnal and secretive amphibians are seldom seen unless encountered on their migrations to breeding pools at night.
Vernal pools seldom hold water beyond the summer months, appearing to be of little value in their empty state. Yet, to mole salamanders and wood frogs, these ephemeral wetlands are critically important.
More information about vernal pools can be found in previous posts.