I usually walk my dog Buddy off-leash along the Red River near my house. He loves to run free and explore the smells, new and old, among the trees and grasses. For him, I guess, it’s like participating in a dog-blog every day. He “reads” the latest with his nose and then responds with his own two-cents worth of new scents.
For the past week we’ve both been following the exploits of a beaver. We have yet to spot it or its lodge on the river. But I see the evidence of its work, and Buddy follows its smelly trail.
The city of Winnipeg spent a ton of money stabilizing the riverbank in the area. City engineers set a bunch of huge boulders at river’s edge, installed some sophisticated sensors, and put up an over-sized sign bragging about their work. They also planted quite a few young trees in the soft, loamy bank. Prior to that, for the past six or seven years, the city has cut back on its lawn mowing along the riverbank. What was once a neatly trimmed lawn is now thick with knee-high grasses and dozens of rangy aspens.
Beavers love aspens.
About a week ago “our” beaver discovered this cafeteria grove of delicious young trees. It gnawed down one small aspen and dragged it down the stabilized riverbank to the water. I checked but couldn’t find a lodge. I suspect that the beaver was submerging the tree somewhere at the bottom of the river in its winter food cache.
Beavers wait until almost the very last stretch of mild weather in the fall to stock their food supply for the winter. This particular beaver was taking advantage of our recent warm spree. It took out only one tree a day for quite a few days. Then two days ago, it took down five more and created a well-worn path down the bank. Sometime between our walk yesterday and this morning it took six additional trees.
In less than a week that sly beaver (Canada’s national symbol) may have undone the work of a cadre of human engineers. Maybe it’s getting back at us for the millions of pelts our ancestors took out of here in the nineteenth century.
I’d like to catch it beavering away at the trees, but work prevents me from staking out the area. In the meantime Buddy and I will just read the signs in our own separate ways. The worst sign of all: winter is a-comin’. Not again!