Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Rain Lizards

Rain lizards--after a good rain, they come walking out of the woods this time of year. I see them most often squashed in the road, so I was pleased to photograph a couple of living individuals. They were less pleased to be photographed, I think. This one, in particular, seemed to scowl at me, and adamantly inclined his head away from the camera. When I turned him loose, he stomped off into the woods in that odd high-stepping gait they have.

This is the Red Eft, the terrestrial phase of the Red-Spotted Newt. This animal always reminds me of my college linguistics class--so that I think of linguistics every time I see a newt, which was once "an ewt," as in "ewts and efts." The "n" migrated from the article to the noun in the case of the newt, but remained where it had begun in the eft. Why didn't it become a neft? An eft is just as difficult to articulate as an ewt.... It's a melancholy subject for me, because, as I mentioned before, I most often encounter my efts as road kill. Perhaps if I took up the local name and called them rain lizards, I'd remember linguistics as a happier topic.


Sherry said...

I loved linguistics. I still like etymology but find it frustrating, as a poet, to work with it. You wind up making connections that nobody gets because, unlike you, they haven't pored over the American Heritage Dictionary's word origin sections. Or married a Latin scholar.

Th'eft is beautiful but he sure does look pissed.

nina said...

I've never heard them referred to as rain lizards, though I can understand the connection to a misty day's emergence.
I looked carefully this spring while I was vernal pool-watching, as pasr of a survey of that area on our property--nothing.
I would love to have them here--perhaps they're in our pond?