Things take time. We spend time. Time changes. Why did we ever think that time was linear?
Last week, after an over night snowfall (5 inches?) I skied down to Forrest Hill Park, around the lake and down the trail by the creek out to Riverside Drive. There were several other groups/individuals of skiers out. A neighbor on his dad's wooden Asnes TUR Langrenn's. The L.L. Bean WAXLESS model. I thought of my first skis stacked up in the attic, a pair of wooden TUR Landgrenn older, wider, waxable skis, the ones I bout at Nippennose in Ithaca to ski around Lake Beebee, and across the fields with my sisters in King Ferry. On that day I was on my (now old school 3-pin) half-metal-edged waxless. New to me. Old-school to everyone else. I don't worrying about keeping up. On that day, it was sunny and warm and my skis glided easily in new tracks.
I continued across Riverside Drive to the path along the river, or the small creek divided from the main branch of the James River but small islands.
The path was pristine save for some dog prints and a set of human foot prints. A few minutes down the trail, a very brightly contrasting creature caught my eye, directly in front the trail I was cutting. I stopped with my ski tips just a few inches from what looked to me to be a zebra-pattered salamander. I inched a tiny bit forward and it didn't budge. At all. I thought it might be dead, frozen in the snow. Maybe it had emerged too early only to be surprised by the mid-winter storm. I scooped it up in a bare hand and the tail curled slowly. A leg stirred slightly. My first thought was to bring it home and warm it up but I couldn't ski with it in my mitten and I didn't have pockets. I laid it gently beside the path and continued back home. I didn't have a phone or camera. Next time, I'll remember that my phone is also my smallest camera.
My biologist friends (Cathy and Lesley) thought is was most probably a Marbled Salamander. Cathy wrote:
"It is normal for them to move in this kind of weather -- rainy or snowy nights in feb/march there are mass movements into the ponds -- I remember driving home one night when we lived in PA on a dirt road. They were coming off the mountain down to some wetlands below my road. I made Rob stop and let me get out and he had to follow me down the road in the headlights while I moved the sallies out of the road.
They each have a unique spot pattern and there is software now to identify individuals so you can do mark-recapture studies just by their spot pattern. When they are in the ponds they are really easy to dip net. We also used to set bucket traps for them and get masses of them. I will have to dig up the pictures. We did some projects with them with school kids years ago. They are really cool. Kind of like sloths only no hair."
Exactly! It moved just lke a sloth. In slow motion and, even then, almost imperceptibly. I was reminded of the sloths we saw in Panama. It looked as if it took great effort to move an arm.
Wow neat! Sign of spring. It will be ok. Just emerged a bit early.