I stand in my garden and gaze at graceful grasses that shimmer in the sun. Droplets of dew sparkle like the ring on my finger. I gather paper bags and scissors and collect clusters of hosta seeds from stalks that still stand. Black seeds rattle against the sides of the paper bags, clattering to the bottom like bits of sand.
Pulling aside frost-killed leaves, now papery white, a fat, glistening salamander wiggles away from my hand. I watch him escape. I can tell by his size that he’s young and I think will have a good life in front of him. After all, he escaped from me, and I could have caught him.
Later that day, after blowing out dust and leaves brought into the garage by car tires and wind, I find a tiny dried-out creature. He’s delicate, perfect. No tire has driven over him. I can’t remember when I last discovered a salamander, and then two, in one day.
Cradling the salamander’s stiff, lifeless body in the palm of my hand, I wonder what he experienced during the time he was alive. I carry his desiccated remains upstairs to save for my grandson and glance at the newspaper, with screaming headlines about the terrorist attack in Paris.
The families of the dead are stunned. In shock and rage, France screams to the attackers, to all of us. Youthful Parisians scurry about, fearful for their future.
What will happen to us? Will ISIS win its war of terror? Will we, in response, kill innocent souls in the Middle East? Where is our world heading?
I much prefer thinking about the hosta seeds I will plant in a few weeks and then watch germinate under lights in the basement. Today, I’d rather contemplate the life of a salamander than worry about the danger that humans create that may change everything forever.