While we were in Vermont one of our favorite haunts on Nenny and D.Pa’s property was Hemlock Brook. On one walk there we counted twenty eight Salamanders. And Rebecca had to touch each and every one. Some of them ran away, but she got her finger on most of them. They are poisonous, so they tend to hold still and say “Hey, I’m red. It would be a really bad idea to eat me, right? Right? You know that, right?” Near the end of our visit we researched the salamanders, made a terrarium, and kept one to watch for a day before setting it loose again.
Hemlock Brook is a lovely place, with enough water to make pools to splash around in, although not big enough to swim in, lots of big rocks and sticks to move around, diverting the water, making damns, deepening pools, mucking around in the mud. Lots of wonderful moss covered fallen logs to sit and walk on too, and little waterfalls and tunnels. I really wish we could have brought it home with us. The water around us in the South SF Bay Area isn’t nearly as clean, many of the streams are contaminated by mercury from natural sources and mining in the coastal mountains. Ick.
Penelope’s favorite thing to do at Hemlock Brook was eat mud. In case you were wondering, and I know I was, the brook gets it’s name from Hemlock the tree, not Hemlock the poisonous shrub. No relation. But still, my husband and I have an ongoing debate, how much mud should you let your children eat? How much mud do you let your children eat?