When Parham met Sally…
     ….it was love at first sight.

It was early March.  I was out trying to catch a few early spring flowers to take images of along a creek in the Red River Gorge. This, an effort somewhat unsuccessful as it was both too early for many little petals and too windy to photograph those which had elected to brave early spring. So I just had to settle for other opportunities that presented themselves. Things like a trio of Wood Duck butts (seems that is the side I catch most shooting wildlife,) frogs I could hear but not find, infrequent, elusive early season butterflies, turkeys that often fed in a meadow but didn’t today and such.

Riffle on Indian Creek Tributary
Riffle on Indian Creek Tributary
But of course, there was the ever present favorites of mine… small waterfalls, riffles, and wonderful cascades. I pulled the old van into a campsite with a stream burbling down beside it and walked upstream a bit to see if there was a shot in the offing. Well, Ok… yeah.  A few small riffles seemed to hold some promise.

I wandered back and picked my camera, selected the lens du jour and tripod and ambled back to the mostly likely candidate for inclusion in “Outdoor Photography.”  Wanting a low angle shot, I flared the tripod’s legs, bent in a grouchy 60 year old crouch to attach my camera and proceeded to shoot it in several different ways.  Leanin’ over like that, I now and then, well…

I stood up stiffly from my low position and turned my head a bit, and there she was.




Beautiful.   Exposed to the whole bright sky.  Just sunning herself on a rock.   Indifferent to the world.

She was a tiny, Northern Two Lined Salamander, although at the time I certainly could not have known her as anything but “Sally” as we had not been previously introduced.  She was about the length of my little finger, but much more dainty.  I think she saw me about the same time I saw her, but her disinterest in me was evident.

She was busy sunning and looking wonderful.

It took me more than a few moments to cautiously again do the grouchy crouch, pivot my tripod all the while gazing at her, frame and focus, and get one fleeting shot of her facing me. Then, she meandered a tad, and presented me with the same angles as the trio of wood ducks earlier presented.  A few shots of that tail-first framing, then she plopped into the stream leaving me marveling at her beauty and what I’d just been privileged to experience.  Mountain Stream Magic.

It’s wonderful there are streams in our world… and still in my favorite mountains, clean and clear enough to support those like Sally. It was a special moment. I’ve seen so few of any of her type or kin in the streams in Kentucky.

Then again, I spend way less time sitting by them, sunning myself, than I’d like to.   There’s never the time.  Time so much deserved, both for me… and for the woods and streams.

Enough for my day. Loaded up, cranked it up, and headed back to what is often characterized as civilization.


      There it is.  That’s just what happened, love at first sight…

         ….when Parham met Sally!


As a photographer and a hiker, I love making images of the natural world. I'm also and avid scuba diver and wannabe chef.

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