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On the Road

Marc Munroe Dion on

It's Newt Night. Frog Fest. Salamanderpalooza.

The temperature is brushing up against 50 where I live, and it's been drizzling for a couple of days.

And so, the amphibians, the goggle-eyed, slightly slimy dwellers in marsh, swamp, creek, pond, slough, and sluggish, shaded stream, are making their way to the spring pools where they lay their eggs.

If you know much about these pools, you call them "vernal pools." I once worked as a reporter in a semi-rural suburb that has a lot of vernal pools, and I came to know them well because, each spring, various government bodies were subject to presentations made by scientists from the state whose greatest dream in life was to see every vernal pool protected. I once hiked out into the woods with a government scientist to see a vernal pool, which was, in fact, a stagnant-looking little puddle of water.

Vernal pools go dry in dry seasons and fill with the spring rains. They're big enough for small amphibians like frogs, but fish don't live in them, so the eggs of newts, frogs and salamanders are safe from hungry fish mouths.

Got that? Good because, if I had to learn it, then you should, too.

The vernal pool is the Hawaii of frogs. When you go to Hawaii, you'll find that the destination is wonderful but the trip itself is awful. Also, if you go to Hawaii, unless you are very careful, your wife is likely to come back with a cargo of fertilized eggs, a side effect of warm water, soft breezes and mai tais.

Same with the newts, but without the mai tais.

You hate the trip to Hawaii because it's a long flight, and airline food has been crap since about 1978, and drunken passengers are always screaming that the flight attendants' request to put on your seat belt somehow violates their Second Amendment rights. In America, everything anyone tells you to do violates your Second Amendment rights, except the stuff that violates your right to free speech. Thank God banning abortion doesn't violate either of those rights because, if it did, you'd be able to get an abortion in a Mississippi gun store.

 

Our bulging-eyed distant cousins, the newts, the frogs and the salamanders, hate their trip, too, but not because there's not enough legroom.

The amphibians heading for the vernal pools to lay eggs hate the trip because it involves crossing interstates, four-lane state roads, two-lane county blacktop and regular suburban streets.

And they get squished, squashed, flattened, ironed-out, killed dead as a frog in the moonlight.

I saw a Facebook post from an animal-loving friend reminding us to scan the roads for amphibians these rainy nights, and I should have laughed and crowed that I am at the top of the food chain, the way some meat eaters do when menaced by a vegan.

I eat meat, but if you've ever been around cattle, and I have, you know it's not much of an honor to be told you're smart enough to outfox a cow. I'm at the top of the food chain, and it's because I'm way smarter than a chicken or a can of SpaghettiOs.

I've hunted, too, but I don't anymore. I think when you grow older you should become more compassionate, not less. If you're compassionate because you've been beat up a little on your way through life, that tenderness is more manly than 15 guns, a Harley-Davidson motorized bicycle and a Trump hoodie.

When you're out on a drizzly spring night on your way to get some scratch tickets and a 12-pack, keep an eye out for the amphibians. They're either God's creation or very distant relatives, or both, and all they're trying to do is get to some froggy dream of love.

To find out more about Marc Dion, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit www.creators.com. Dion's latest book, a collection of his best columns, is called "Mean Old Liberal." It is available in paperback from Amazon.com and for Nook, Kindle, and iBooks.


 

 

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