the little people

Yesterday, I spent a few minutes sitting on a steep section of shoreline, watching two Beaver paddling back and forth in open water at the fringe of an ice-covered lake. They were carrying sticks to what looked to be the beginning of a lodge in the sheltered notch of a small bay. Gliding smoothly, leaving their V-shaped wakes in the clear, cold water, they paid me little attention after a couple of passes to get a closer view. They worked diligently, making multiple trips to collect sticks. In response to the loud clap of falling planks at a distant cottage, one of the Beaver slapped its tail with a sharp crack like a gunshot before diving for a good half minute. Several times, they left the water to waddle a short ways onto the shore to pick up previously gnawed sticks. When moving about on land, they look like small people, hunched as they slowly lumber along. I am reminded of Grey Owl’s (Archie Belaney’s) little people.

Once in the water, Beaver are in their true element. A few times over the years, a beaver has dived under my canoe while I drifted in the still, clear waters of late autumn. Small ears pressed closed, dark body and tail undulating, they are fluid as quicksilver. When passing beneath my canoe, thousands of tiny air bubbles streamed out of their thick, rich fur, leaving an effervescent trail.

More info on the Beaver from the Canadian Wildlife Service’s Hinterland Who’s Who page on Beaver.

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4 Responses to “the little people”

  1. pablo Says:

    Beavers are still uncommon in Missouri, though they are coming back, and beaver sign (distinctively gnawed stumps) are getting easier to find. Maybe they can fix my dam so it holds water!

  2. burning silo Says:

    Pablo – If anyone could fix your dam, it would be the Beavers. They are first rate engineers. Just be prepared for them to do a bit of serious logging nearby. (-:

  3. TroutGrrrl Says:

    Very beautiful description Bev.

    I’ve had these guys occasionally scare the crap out of me while trout fishing at night. Their large size is never more evident than when you catch them in your headlamp beam 30 feet away while you’re waist-deep in their river.

  4. burning silo Says:

    Thanks, TroutGrrrl. I will bet they could be a bit frightening to run into at night! And yes, some of the adults are really quite large. I’ve occasionally had one come up beside the canoe and slap the water with its tail. If my dog is with me in the canoe, that will make her bark. I think she believes we’re under attack – which might well be the impression the Beaver is hoping to make. (-: