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Classical Music

Outdoors: Snakes and frogs

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In my grade school music classes, we spent the month of March singing folk songs about St. Patrick.

I still remember most of the lyrics and the legends.

In one, St. Patrick "preached a sarmin that drove the frogs out of the bogs and banished all the varmin."

That legend is dubious.

Snakes and frogs did not live in Ireland even before the good saint launched his preaching career.

If reptiles and amphibians were ever in Ireland, and based on the lack of fossil evidence, most scientists believe they were not, they were wiped out during the Ice Ages. 

When the glaciers melted, Ireland was cut off from Europe.

So with one or two rare exceptions, reptiles and amphibians were unable to reach the Emerald Isles.

That may seem like the luck of the Irish to those who find slimy and warty creatures repulsive, but I am glad that following the Ice Ages, the frogs returned to the bogs and that snakes, toads and salamanders repopulated the Great Lakes region.

I will preach this "sarmin"until I am green in the face: reptiles and amphibians are vital to the balance of nature.