It was a bit chillier than it has been, but still way too warm for January, so, with the ice all but gone, I headed over to the vernal pool complex at the Babcock Ridge Preserve to check on pond health. The vernals were all quite full, and I was equally full of hope and anticipation as I slowly and meticulously checked the edges of the main pond—the one that had filled about halfway then re-dried unexpectedly, the result being, I feared, the demise of this year's potential class of Marbled Salamanders. With any luck, I thought, as all I was turning up were drowned mosses and a few patches of Patridgeberry, a plant that isn't too happy growing underwater, at least a few might have been miraculously spared. And in a sunnier part of the pond, about a foot from its leafy shoreline, I found my quarry: a slender but healthy looking Marbled larva, its bushy Christmas-tree-like external gills gleaning oxygen from the cold water. It wasn't alone. Happily, not all the eggs had hatched in November—there must have been a nest that the partial filling hadn't reached—so there was the possibility that young Marbleds would, as has been the case, prosper here. Who knows? With less competition, they might even thrive. The sighting was spirit-lifting, and these days, any spirit-lifting is a blessing.