The hour of the salamanders on the fiery solstice | Culture | EUROtoday

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As I needed to launch the salamanders, like Liberad a Willy however on one other scale, I assumed what higher event than for San Juan, on the summer season solstice, given the legendary relationship of those amphibians with hearth. Many extravagant issues are attributed to salamanders (reminiscent of the truth that preserved in honey and blended with meals they represent a robust aphrodisiac), however essentially the most notable, as is understood, is their potential to not burn and even to extinguish hearth. It can also be humorous that essentially the most well-known to carry it, Pliny the Elder (Natural HistoryBook all his Roman life.

Anyway, I mentioned I needed to launch my salamanders, which deserves an evidence. I had collected them from a pond in Viladrau of their larval state, which is aquatic, they usually have resided at dwelling till they metamorphosed and have become miniature copies of the grownup salamander that everybody is aware of, black and yellow (aposematism, it’s known as : putting options of toxic animals to keep off predators). The pact—with myself—is that I take them out of the pond, which often dries up, which condemns the larvae, and I return them to the identical place after providing them a brief foster dwelling. I’ve been doing this, which right this moment is seen nearly as a criminal offense (and nearly actually, as a result of salamanders are a protected species), for a few years (after I began I used to be concerning the age of Gerald Durrell in Corfu, and I additionally put water snakes within the bathtub), and I’ve turn out to be, with out intending it, a specialist in these amphibians: I’m even able to sexing them, if I allow them to.

An adult salamander.
An grownup salamander.

And I'm not the one saying that I do know quite a bit about them: it's one thing that the salamanders themselves can attest to, for which I’ve a really excessive survival price that has reached 100% on this final breeding episode. Indeed, the seven larvae that I extracted from the pond, with such rustic means as a can of tennis balls, a plastic container of Krit biscuits from Cuétara (krititas) and a kitchen strainer, have all survived to be reintroduced. Their care has required virtually disabling one of many sinks in the home, transformed right into a nursery of salamanders with two terrariums, one aquatic and semi (with a flat stone in order that they’ll climb on when finishing up the metamorphosis, since in water they might drown) and one other utterly terrestrial, with earth and moss, to which they’re transferred when the change is full already. Add containers for the small prey on which my beloved urodeles stay, provides of mineral water, ornamental greens, and numerous devices to provide meals to the specimens, along with a conspicuous reference library presided over by the indispensable The genus Salamandrafrom Seidel and Gerhardt (Chimaira, 2016).

Release of juvenile salamanders.
Release of juvenile salamanders.

My salamanders, though I have no idea if they’re mine or I are theirs, given the servitude to which they power me, belong to the Franco-Catalan subspecies Salamander salamandra terrestriswhich is the one in Montseny and is completely different from others on the peninsula reminiscent of ss almanzoris, fastuosa o morenica, Although there’s fairly a little bit of confusion with all this about species. The identify I really like is the one given to the generic widespread salamander (Salamandra salamandra) in English: hearth salamanderhearth salamander, which appears to return from outdated salamandrology and even alchemy. Which brings us again to St. John.

The summer season solstice competition has at all times been my favourite since I used to be a youngster, for the romanticism of the festivals and for the precocious studying, a product of the youthful sentimental failures of the mentioned festivals, which left me quite a lot of free time, The Golden Bough, by Frazer, certainly one of my favourite books regardless of its obsolescence (1922, the abridged model of virtually 900 pages). On Saint John, June 24 and its eve, the start of Saint John the Baptist is formally celebrated (it could have been a fantastic Day of Dance), who baptized Jesus Christ and actually misplaced his head for Salome, it’s not clear if someday of verbena. But in actuality, Frazer says, what the vacation did was superimpose a Christian veneer on your entire collection of pagan solstice celebrations in Europe, which had been celebrated with bonfires. The concept of ​​hearth and fiery festivals, after all, is to revive power to the solar at that vital second when it reaches its peak and begins its decline, to reignite the flame so to talk. In Provence a boy was chosen as king to preside over the celebration. The younger man was chosen for his potential to hunt woodpeckers, most likely as a result of affiliation of those, whose males have a pink neck, with the solar (and the staccato (These bonfires had been lit to scare away dragons, creatures associated to fireside reminiscent of salamanders, and believed to be extra lively round St. John's Day. Frazer mentions a convention based on which “pernicious dragons”, excited by the summer season warmth, “copulated in the air and poisoned wells and rivers by their semen falling into them”: you need to see how entertaining that’s.) The golden department. The witches and the brotherhood of the inexperienced wolf additionally got here out by San Juan, fortunately this one solely in Jumièges, Normandy.

Salamander in an engraving from a 16th century history of alchemy.
Salamander in an engraving from a sixteenth century historical past of alchemy.

So final San Juan, June 24, we went on a day tour, my daughter Rita, her companion Ramón, their one-month-old child, Mateo, the salamanders and a servant heading to the Can Batllic pond, the place Rita , then pregnant, and I had picked them up on March 30. Mateo, huddled in a backpack, didn't appear to know a lot, however most likely greater than on his earlier go to to the pond. I favored the thought of ​​him coming as a result of it was like closing the circle: the larvae had metamorphosed and he had been born. Everything adopted its pure course, which might now culminate with the discharge of the salamanders on a day so favorable to the creatures of fireplace. On the way in which we noticed two hares, greeted with pleasure by my companions, so I shunned commenting that Frazer says that it was believed that witches reworked into these animals (much more than into cats) and that that’s the reason they had been often burned within the solstice bonfires. Arriving on the pond, subsequent to the outdated farmhouse from 1724 that retains so many recollections, I proceeded to stroll round it twice (some ceremony have to be invented) and extracted the small salamanders from their mini journey terrarium, continuing to go away them among the many vegetation across the water . I couldn't say in the event that they acknowledged their birthplace as larvae (newt moms give start to their infants alive by inserting them within the water), however they instantly disappeared into the terrain, dissolving their little splendor within the grass.

Juvenile salamander.
Juvenile salamander.

I used to be overcome with disappointment. After all, we had been residing collectively for 3 months, and a few of my amorous affairs on the honest lasted much less. What would turn out to be of them? Of the salamanders, I imply. Beyond that melancholy, the act had no dramatic element, regardless of how a lot Frazer I threw at it. Then I noticed that my daughter had reserved the final salamander to launch herself and she or he positioned it within the palm of her hand earlier than the darkish and wide-open eyes of her son. Amphibian and child appeared to take a look at one another as in the event that they shared one thing that the remainder of us missed. The solar, already very low, then got here out from between the clouds and a reddish glow appeared to set the 2 creatures on hearth. It was a magical second. I don't know what it’ll imply in Mateo's life, however not all youngsters have a salamander as their godmother, nor does future give them a baptism of fireplace on Saint John's Day.

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