“My only means of self defense is to wiggle my eye and feign being a salamander”

12. Find the salamander crossing in Amherst


When I first moved to Amherst in January, I had asked my loyal Jazzercise customers (most of whom are Amherst residents) for interesting places around the area to check out. They had collectively given me a pretty long list, but “Salamander Crossing” really stood out to me. It was right up my salamander alley. Many of the customers knew that I had a pet salamander in my classroom, named President Jefferson (we were learning about the nickel the week we got him). I decided that after the school was over, I would put President Jefferson in the Salamander Crossing area so he could have a safe, happy life with his salamander brothers and sisters.


President Jefferson 

I had read here that the Salamander Crossing was put in place because during every April hundreds of salamanders and toads were crossing the road to get from the wooded ponds to the springtime pools to get their freak on. Unfortunately, a lot were getting squashed by cars instead of getting busy. So, the good people of Amherst built an underground tunnel in 1987.

So I knew I wanted to check this out and put it on “my list”. The only problem was I had no idea where it was. Luckily, when I published this year’s list on Facebook, I received a comment from a co-worker and friend, Jenny, who told me exactly where and how to find this kinda-of secretive place. She told me it was on Henry Street in North Amherst. She also told me that “there are 2 tunnels with little holes on top, and there are little barriers that go up on either the hill to funnel them towards the tunnels”. I, very thankful for this insight, decided to check it out with Nick. We went at the end of May, so I had a feeling I wouldn’t see any salamanders, but I was still hopeful.

Nick and I plugged in “Henry Street” into the GPS and drove up and down it a few times looking for the “little barriers” and “funnels”. After a while, we thought we may have stopped them, and parked the car (totally legally). Then we explored.

For a bit, Nick and I weren’t even sure if we had found it, because we didn’t see any salamanders and the creeks were pretty dry. However, I showed Jenny my pictures and she did confirm that we had found the right place and told me that the best day to go is during the first rain of April when it’s about 40 degrees.

In any event, it was cool to check out a part of Amherst I don’t spend a ton of time in.

Sadly, a week before school ended, President Jefferson passed away. This post is dedicated to him and all the happiness he brought the first graders of Room 36. RIP LIL BUDDY.





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