Wednesday, June 22, 2016


There was a siren, a type of salamander, that lived in our ditch when we were kids in the 1960s in south Louisiana. There was always an inch or two of water, and on a summer afternoon, we'd go out with a piece of thread and a bit of bacon or cheese to see if we could catch a crawfish. But sometimes, something much heavier tugged on the string. Slowly I'd pull so as the catch wouldn't let go. When I saw the great wide mouth and slippery body of the siren emerging from the mud, I'd drop the string and run away, hollering. I was the one that let go, and the siren got to eat the bacon or cheese appetizer.

I think about that salamander sometimes. It seemed to be living in the smooth thickness of mud, not on land nor in the water. How does a siren breathe in the mud? How do they reproduce? Are there families of sirens that live in the mud?

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