California has been facing a terrible drought and no doubt will be reeling from it for years to come. Rosie Bethel sent these wonderful photos after a blessedly heavy rain. When the rain comes, the lake behind her property overflows into her yard.

Rosie's lake

She reports that the lake is now choked by water hyacinths, but once upon a time, boys paddled around on it fishing in canoes. There are lots of frogs, though, and Rosie sees ducks, turtles and crawdads when the water rises.

And baby salamanders, too.

Rosie's sala

Sometimes, Rosie says, they’re even smaller. She notes that it’s a good sign to see salamanders and frogs.

It is, indeed.

Salamanders are among the elemental spirits, and represent fire (while gnomes were earth, sylphs were air and undines — nymphs — were water). Unfortunately, during the Middle Ages (and maybe beyond), thousands of poor salamanders were burned in the belief that, as elemental spirits, they were impervious to flames and could live happily in fire, uninjured. To prove it, they were tossed into fires, only to cook to a crisp. In spite of this, the fable continued, the roasting went on.

More happily, frogs are notorious for their regenerative powers, associated with fertility. Frog amulets were even placed on ancient Egyptian mummies to help with rebirth. However, European inquisitors cited frogs as the familiars of witches and hated them, probably because a frog’s tongue placed under a man’s pillow would force him to speak all his secrets in his sleep.

Frogs were prominent in rain charms. Does anybody have a frog rain charm to share with us in Colorado?

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