Saving Private Salamander

Light rain falls. Power lines crackle overhead. Birds flit through tree tops and shrubs. A man walks along a gravel road somewhere on the Secret Coast. He’s damp and exhausted after planting trees on steep slopes. He’s heading home for wine and a nap. The world is in crisis but that seems far away at the moment. Planting trees helps with that. It is a deeply soothing and distancing activity, especially when a planter finds a groove.

The man found the groove this morning.

A brown and yellow salamander on the gravel catches the attention of the man. It’s moving at the speed of democratic reform in America. It’s writhing like the American state, as well.

The man stops and inspects the salamander. There is something in the creature that connects to the man. Perhaps it is something antediluvian, the primal connection between two species that evolved from a common ancestor eons ago. Perhaps if something else hadn’t happened, hominids wouldn’t have made it, same with salamanders. Who knows. But we are all connected, a fact that most Western religions can’t seem to grasp.

The Buddha instructed: save all sentient beings. This salamander is decidedly more sentient than many of the suited snakes in our august corridors of greed and power. He writhes with a lot more purpose and class, too.

A car would drive along the gravel road soon and pulverize the salamander. The man picks up the salamander and carries it to the safety of grass, shade, dirt and moisture. It is the first time the man has ever picked up a salamander. His hands don’t shake.