One of the very first things Gene and I did upon moving in (after the whole moving truck debacle, that is), was take a walk along the trails through the back acreage. He wanted to show me the beaver ponds, so that’s where we started.
I was beyond crushed that there weren’t any actual beavers in the pond, happily paddling around or munching on a tree while looking adorable. But there were TONS of downed trees, with the stumps looking like sharpened pencils sticking up all over the place. And the sheer size of the dam was impressive, to me at least. It had to be 8 feet tall. Gene, on the other hand, started muttering something about traps and sniper scopes. Apparently the pond had significantly risen since he had toured the property back in June.
So anyway, seeing a beaver became my new goal in life. During the dark days, when Bess Bess came to visit, she caught Beaver Fever with me. We researched the prime beaver activity times (dawn/dusk), and found out they’re mostly nocturnal. So we started heading down to the pond every day at sunset and dawn, hoping to catch a glimpse. After a few trips, all we got was a near heart attack when one of them thumped its tail in the water to scare us off. Of course, it did it from behind their massive lodge, so we couldn’t actually see it.
Then we got the brilliant idea of sneaking down to the pond at midnight, when the beavers would least expect it. (Rum & Cokes made this seem like a fine idea). We used our cell phones as flashlights, and set off through the woods in a fashion similar to characters in every horror movie ever. I think our grand plan would have worked too, had we been able to keep even remotely quiet. By the time we go to the pond, literally not a creature was stirring. I think all the night life was too busy staring in shock at the pair of bumbling, giggling, cell phone sporting/flannel pajama pants wearing beaver stalkers who were invading their peaceful pond in the wee hours of the morning.
Fast forward to a few days ago, during one of my pre-sunrise rambles through the woods. Gene set up his hunting blind so I could take pictures of the waterfowl on the upper pond (more on that next post!), so I’ve taken to bringing a travel mug of coffee and my camera out there just before dawn, and settling in to watch the world wake up. I take the long way home, which loops me right past the lower beaver pond. Which is when I FINALLY saw a beaver.
Ironically, I didn’t actually notice him at first. I was taking pictures of two wood ducks and it paddled right into my field of vision. I made my way down to the water’s edge while the beaver swam in a slow circle. It was a little disconcerting, because A) they’re strikingly ugly and B) he never took his eyes off me. Then I noticed every loop he made was bringing him closer to where I stood at the water line.
I didn’t get too worried until he made a sharp turn and started swimming right for me. I flashed back to a news story I had read last year, about a kayaker in Washington who got attacked by an angry beaver. It ended up putting her in the hospital, so apparently they don’t mess around. Then I started thinking about how mad Gene would be if I came home with battle scars, and had to explain I’d opted for a travel mug of coffee instead of a gun.
All that flashed through my head in microseconds, then I realized that by now he was only a few feet away and I should probably take the hint. As soon as I backed up, he resumed swimming in his slow, menacing circles.