#QuarantinedThoughts — Newts

latest spring obsession is going for a dog walk right after it rains. That’s when these cute little guys come out en masse.

At first I thought they were salamanders, but a quick bit of Google research determined them to be, in fact, rough-skinned newts. Once I had been thrilled to spot a solitary one of them scuttling its plump little bottom across our path, but since Spring has properly sprung, I have to walk quite slowly and carefully, watchful for the tell-tale movements that break the near-perfect camouflage of these mini dragons so as to avoid crushing them underfoot. That would be incredibly upsetting as they are quite adorable.

The sheer quantity of them is amazing, I counted over 60 in a single one-mile loop and I’m not even looking very hard for them these days. I was briefly alarmed to find out that they are quite poisonous, but apparently only if ingested, which neither my dogs nor I have the remotest interest in doing. Apparently the orange chemical on their belly skin can also cause skin irritation, but I try to refrain from touching them too much, respecting the wildlife and all that, but I did lift a few out of immediate harm’s way and got away with a bit of petting with no adverse effects.

By-the-by, we also discovered a snake (apparently quite harmless… again, in Google we trust) living in a bush near our picnic bench. He/she comes out regularly to sun itself, again sensing that our dogs take no notice of it and we’re happy to share our space.

Every day seems to bring new plants, new animals, and new discoveries. I’m not really sure if this is that much different from other years, but it does feel a bit like we’ve given the environment more breathing room this season as we’ve been forced to — sometimes quite ungraciously — take a step back and be a little bit quieter. Whatever it is, I’m enjoying it. There are much less worthwhile things to do with one’s time than petting a newt.

#QuarantinedThoughts is a random series of ramblings and reflections brought about by a mild case of cabin fever. The author currently resides in an Oregon field with her bewildered British husband and “The Red Headed League” a family of Staffordshire Bull Terriers named after Sherlock Holmes characters.

Technology writer for FastCo, Quartz, The Next Web, Ars Technica, Wired + more. Consultant specializing in VR #MixedReality and Strategic Communications

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