Hopping and Walkin’ in the Rain
This is the time of year to get out after dark and explore… especially as the rain falls.
“I’m dancing and singin’ in the rain,” crooned actor and dancer Gene Kelly long ago. On September 28th as rain finally soaked our parched landscape, I knew that amphibians, if not “dancing and singin’ in the rain,” would be out hopping and walkin’ in the rain.
As the rain fell my mission was clear. I would join friends to look for frogs and salamanders in a local woodland after dark. The rain fell continuously over two hours of searching and we were soon drenched. But like Gene Kelly, we were didn’t care a whit.
The salamanders didn’t disappoint. Scores of red-backed salamanders wandered the forest floor and climbed low-lying vegetation and tree trunks. A dozen spotted salamanders patrolled the red oak and sugar maple leaves carpeting the ground.
Brilliant red efts, the immature forms of the red-spotted newts, were ignited by our flashlight beams. One of these efts had clambered up the angled branch of a tree and surveyed its sodden realm from a two-metre perch.
Predictably other amphibians were afoot, including green frogs and spring peepers. A toad glistened with raindrops, reminding me of the poet who, if memory serves, imagined the rain “scrubbing the blissful backs of toads.”
A spotted salamander “metamorph,” a youngster just recently transformed from its aquatic larval form, was a great find. This stunning little creature was spangled with gold flecks. As it matures, those flecks will consolidate into the discreet yellow spots that define its species.
Even a downpour couldn’t dampen the joy of Gene Kelly’s character in Singin’ in the Rain. The rain merely accentuated the depth of his newfound love for Debbie Reynolds’ character.
Rain has a different meaning for our amphibians of course, but maybe, just maybe, they also feel some elemental joy when they’re hopping and walkin’ in the rain.