#QuarantinedThoughts — Newts

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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.

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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.

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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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