Cool water slid over bared feet, albeit at a comfortably shallow depth. Todd’s ears neglected the noise from his friends’ carrying on, deferring instead to his eyes as they scanned amongst the rock and muck. Each gingerly displaced rock sent a cascade of debris into the current like muted fireworks.
Water striders were flirtatious. A bullfrog croaked unseen on the far bank. The crawdads were reticent. The removal of a softball sized stone revealed a complacent salamander who wriggled about the indentation for a moment then calmed.
Todd made no move to catch him. Filtered sunlight caught the two streaks of gold on the tiny creature’s back in fits and spurts. Less than 2 inches long, and it held him spellbound.
“I ain’t gonna catch ya,” Todd whispered, only half thinking the words, “Ain’t gonna take yer gold.” He giggled, amused at his own thought of a salamander as a back woods leprechaun. “Tha’s silly. Besides, I ain’t meant fer such, am I? Ain’t fit fer nice things, not even salamander gold.”