It is already far too late this year and I feel as though I am already getting too old for such an activity. Nonetheless, I still fondly remember the summer days I spent spent hunting for salamanders in the woods. My house was up on a hill rather far away from the the world of man, surrounded by forests harboring many temporary ponds that would fill in the spring rains and not drain until the beginning of autumn. It was in that final month of the summer when the water was gone but the cold had not yet set in that one could most easily find the salamanders. The ones that lived around me were the size of a finger, black on most of their bodies, and with a bright orange stripe running along their shiny backs.
As the air grows colder, they have to find new places to make their hideaways in preparation for their winter hibernation. Old fallen logs and stones make the best homes for them and so they wriggle their way beneath them and spend their days waiting for the warmth and rains to return. This is when they are the easiest to find. They sit there half asleep, not expecting the rock to suddenly fly up into the sky. Often they do not even react, while other times they will drowsily try to scurry off in whichever direction they happened to be facing.
Capturing them, grabbing them by hand, is just so simple and satisfying. Their bodies are so squishy, sleek, and pleasantly damp like fresh putty. The feel of their tiny little hands walking across my own is so satisfying. It may not be ethical to bother them for my own delight, but I simply could never help myself once I started. I would spend hours turning over every rock I could find to see if there were any of the little wet lizards and collect them in a jar filled with mud. Before long I would have a dozen or so of them and then I would let them loose to run all over my arm.
It has been nearly a decade since I have last gone hunting for salamanders, but recently I have longed to have that feeling of their tiny little sticky paws scampering across my skin. I feel so strange for finding such an act so desirable and pleasant. Regardless, I think that next year I may very well cave and subject more of those poor amphibious friends to the odd habits of my youth.