Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Beaver Watch

A dense cloud cover muted nearly all light from the rapidly waning moon as I quickly pulled on jeans & a sweatshirt. I grabbed my camera, binoculars, & carry-along seat cushion that would protect me from the morning dew. Once clear of the forest's shadows, I comfortably made my way through the tall grasses with just enough light to discern the concrete landing as I approached it. I was just beyond where this shot was taken some months ago. (Concealed in the shadows to my left, was the scene I posted Sept. 29, "Why Get Up So Early?"). I have rushed up before & startled the beaver from the nearby bank. This time I paused in the grass before stealthily creeping across the landing to the water's edge & squatting down. While "watching", it is best to make only necessary movements & to make them in small increments.
I kept my eyes steadily on the area of the lake that shown with the reflection of the predawn sky. Before I could shift to sit, a v-shaped glint flashed across JUST the other side of the duck house. The water level was such that the beaver was a mere 20 feet from me!! & nearly at eye level!! He swam back & forth 3 times, scouting for hidden dangers. My presence went undiscovered & he sounded no alarm. The head & wake of his mate soon followed & headed directly across the lake. They were out for one last, relaxing swim before tucking themselves in their burrow for the hours of light. He remained, making short laps, back & forth, JUST before me !!!! Several times, he turned to face me, but the slight breeze was in my face & I made no move. Had he seen me, he would have sounded an alarm to his mate & disappeared under the surface. Knowing this, it was exhilarating, rather than chilling to have him so close & coming towards me. After upwards of 15 laps across a small part of my vision, he headed off to my left.
I knew they would be gone for some time, so I settled down, silently with my hot cup of coffee & my time alone with my Lord. I never took my eyes from the mirror-like surface of the lake. Not ten minutes later, he returned to swim in front of me another dozen-plus, laps. Once, rolled over revealing lighter colored fur under his chin. I have never heard this about beavers, but I can say with certainty that I have clearly seen it. After a few more laps, he abruptly stopped & stared directly at me. I was no longer concealed by darkness. I braced myself for the impending slap of the water from his tail, a signal to his mate to stay away. It is quite like someone has dropped a bowling ball from a great height & is even more amazing so close. I sat for some 15 minutes, before I saw one of them make their way to the far end of the wooded point. After some time, I heard the bubbles as one, or both, descended into the tunnels of their burrow. What an awesome way to start my day!!!!!
After a very long & full day, I headed out to regather my peace & watch the final rays of the set sun light up the uppermost clouds. I had hardly made it to the lake's edge when the she-beaver made her way across to the big forest. The male always heads out first, in a particular path to check for danger. When it is clear, she follows along a diagonal line towards the forest. This is the only way I can tell one from another. I felt so very, very blessed to end my day as it had begun...blessed by the furry, little nose & shimmering wake of one my neighbors, the beavers.

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