When I was about 10 years old, I went to a pet shop and encountered my newt. It was the Cynops pyrrhogaster (Japanese fire belly newt) species. Its cute form, and the vivid red color on the belly immediately captured my imagination.
The newt was not very expensive, well within the reach of my humble pocket money. I paid, and asked the owner to put it in a plastic bag. Gingerly, and with a heart full of imagination, I took the newt back home.
At that time, I was fond of devising all kinds of habitats for my pets. I made a grass jungle for my grasshopper. For the rice fish (Oryzias latipes), I put lots of small stones and water plants and imagined that I was one of the small creatures. For my newt, I prepared a whole small world of water, stone, and dirt, arranged in a way that I imagined would provide a high quality entertainment for the chap.
It was not long before I discovered that the newt was a rather dull animal. It does not move most of the time, and when it does, it jerks and then just stops. There was no question of a friendship between us. I did touch the newt and handled it in my hand from time to time, but from the way it wiggled its tails and opened and shut its mouth, I could not say that it was enjoying the experience very much. Soon, I learned that watching without interfering was the best newt policy for our co-existence.
(This essay to be continued tomorrow)