He said he saw a semi-aquatic rodent, so let's leave it at that
Sunday, December 5, 2010; 6:31 PM
Frankly, I don't know what to think about the beaver - if there even is a beaver.
"I saw the beaver again today," I'll say to My Lovely Wife. She'll just smile at me, as if thinking to herself: "Poor dear. He's seeing beavers again."
You see, she's never seen the beaver. Nor has my daughter. My dog doesn't notice him either, even though it's on our walks together that I sometimes see the semi-aquatic rodent.
I first saw him last year, in a creek along a paved and well-traveled path not far from our house. He was in the water, paddling under a small, arched bridge. I felt like I was in the Yukon. Behold the mighty beaver! I wanted him to slap his big, flat tail against the water, but he just kept swimming. I was alone with the dog, and when I got home, the dog wouldn't back me up.
A year went by. Then about a month ago, I saw him again.
"I saw the beaver," I reported when I got home.
"That's nice," my wife said. "I wish I could see the beaver."
Last week, I noticed that some trees near the creek had been gnawed. One was felled completely, leaving a stump that looked like it had been run through a pencil sharpener. I might spend most of my day sitting at a desk staring at a computer screen, but I know beaver leavings when I see them.
"Did you see the trees?" I asked my wife the next time she got back from walking the dog. "The beaver trees?"
"No," she said, with the sad voice of someone wondering how difficult it is to have a person committed.
A few days later, I saw the beaver himself. We think of beavers as industrious - zealous, even. We don't say, "Busy as a raccoon." But this is one lazy beaver. Unless he's working on a lodge somewhere else and just comes to my neighborhood to chew a few trees and unwind, he's about as busy as a professor with tenure. He's a stealth beaver.
Perhaps he comes bearing some sort of message: Take time to stop and smell the trees, then eat them. Maybe he thinks I need more roughage in my diet.