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April 8, 2011
The Beavers Had a Day
I love to nature watch. And in the spring - when everything comes to life - I do more watching than I probably should. So yesterday, aside from walking around aimlessly and gawking, I spent the morning comfortably perched on a cliff by a pine tree growing out of the cliff face at the edge of a bog. I tucked myself comfortably up against the thick solid trunk, and leaned back in bliss behind a thin veil of branches that provided both concealment and a view.
At dawn, an hour before the sun's glare bleeds the colors, the bog was a study in pastels. There was no green vegetation at all. The water surface shimmered in colors ranging through black, tan, blue, and dark greenish where the light reflected from the pines at the edge of the beaver pond.
Light reflected from the wavelets as beavers swam at slow, steady, unvarying speed. Their noses and ears peeked out of the water, etching V's in their wake. One beaver hauled itself out onto an old dam overgrown with viburnum bushes. Its shaggy coat glistened black as it bent over on its haunches and, with its front paws, brushed the fur on its head and behind its ears. Then it waddled back into the water and slid out of sight.
As I sat there I continued to watch muskrats, woodpeckers, geese, grackles, red-winged blackbirds, and wood ducks. I silently thanked the beavers, because with their dams and their constant cutting of brush and trees, they have created this oasis of very varied life in what would otherwise be an almost uniform expanse.
By the end of the day I had discovered that it had been, in fact, International Beaver Day. I had inadvertently celebrated their "special" day by observing and appreciating them for what they mean to our natural world.
This is obviously not a well known Day. But hopefully that will change in the near future. Check out this one minute video and spread the word.
I'm a Master Naturalist and an outdoor enthusiast -- mostly kayaking, and I live on a Peninsula in the Chesapeake Bay. I'm the author of The Nature Fan, Nature Fan Activists, Green Earth Almanac, and Amanda's Geographic. Formerly, I ran the nationally syndicated column "National Green Activism" for The Examiner, and I was a key factor in the success of many campaigns. Make sure you don't miss a post, and subscribe by email! Thanks for reading.