It’s been a bumper year for oaks and acorns. All the animals are fat and sassy. Deer browse daily in the woods, as well as the yard. Rearing up on hind legs, they’ve eaten that last apple low enough to reach. A herd of six nap in their “living room” beside the drive, not thirty feet into the brush.
Late summer, I snapped pictures through the window one morning of a curious fawn, come to inspect and sniff the three lawn chairs beside the boardwalk. Just a few feet from the front deck, I thought he might come up the steps and knock on the door.
We hear coyotes more often than we see them, and a mama mink might turn up in the late winter to take over a muskrat den in the front yard. But only once in thirty years has a beaver come to Flesher Pond. I remember the summer morning at the edge of the beach when I saw an eight-inch cottonwood lying in the water, the trunk gnawed in a way that could only mean one thing. I ran back to the house to find Sam.
“Sam. You’ve got to see this tree. It must be a beaver, but it can’t be. We’ve never had one before.”
Back at the beach, Sam pointed out the chewed-off branches just under the water. “He’s going to use those to build a lodge and eat the leaves.” We had a new show on the pond.
Every fall, we put on Downton Abbey and watch all the way through to Christmas. Sam loves the costumes and cars, and chuckles at the Dowager Countess’ quips. Granny cracks us up. Watching the beaver reminded me of her view of life as a constant challenge. Reminded me of my own life.
“All life is a series of problems which we must try and solve. First one and then the next and then the next, until at last we die.”
Not much humor in that.
I keep busy trying to build harmony with family and friends, especially after putting my foot in my mouth again. For me, it takes daily touches here and there, and constant gnawing; so too, the busy beaver, constant in his purpose. But even beavers need a little rest. One warm afternoon, we spied Mr. Beaver across the shallow end of the pond, curled up on a tuft of dead grass near the grand-daddy cottonwood, its leaves trembling, flashing gold and green in the slight breeze. I ran for the binoculars.
We watched the beaver raise his head, yawn, and sink back down to sleep. “Did you see that?” Sam asked. “Such a personal thing to do.”
Observing the animal express a human trait made us, well, gleeful.
Mr. Beaver left the pond before cold weather. We wondered if he had come through the neighbor’s woods to the north and now made his way back to the next pond over.
(May I just say here that Hoosiers like prepositions, especially folks who don’t know what they are. We who do, know not to end a sentence with one. But after all, I live in Indiana. We double them up, write them back to back, and sprinkle them about with reckless abandon.)
After fussing long enough with next week’s blog, and needing a break from thinking about the latest interruption to my peaceful life on the pond, I yawned and went to take a nap.