Monday, April 30

Leave it to Beavers

Beavers have been working away from both sides.

Amazing to see the tooth marks chiseled in the wood.
In a previous post, I included a picture of this big, beautiful maple tree that is quite clearly a work-in-progress for a very ambitious beaver. Since then, Jim and I have taken some guests on a guided tour of our property and we included a visit to this tree and the area around it.

Our guests found it as remarkable as we do, so I thought I'd share some more with you. The photos don't quite do it justice (they never do), but I'd be happy to show you in person during a visit to the inn.

Talk about ambitious -- I can't even get my arms around it!
From mossy trail to beaver pond.
A couple years ago we discovered a little beaver pond in the woods just off our mossy trail. We couldn't see it from the trail but could hear a loud chorus of frogs singing and went to investigate. 

What we found was a stretch of pond--shallow and rather murky--clearly not from a steady flow of fresh water. It's not a large pond, from what we can tell, but it's hard to get a look at it for all the debris of trunks and branches. What's remarkable is the sheer number and size of the trees that were obviously taken down by beavers.

One of many stumps.
Tree down!
The tree I mentioned is still standing, but for how long? A beaver (or beavers) have chewed chunks out of both sides. There are others that are just stumps and others that look like pieces of a giant "pick up sticks" game.

While it's easy to think of the beavers as "destructive", keep in mind that the changes they wreak on their environment also create habitat (for frogs, for instance) and open up parts of the forest to sunlight, creating opportunities for sun-loving plants to take route and flourish. A forest is never static. It's an ever-evolving system and beavers are just one tool of change.

Giant game of Pick Up Sticks
To my fellow Canadians out there, I have to say: If you've ever bemoaned the fact that our national animal is a large, buck-toothed rodent; if you've ever wondered why we didn't instead choose to represent our country with an intimidating grizzly or polar bear or a majestic bull moose... bemoan no more. 

The beaver is underestimated, quietly yet assuredly effective, fiercely determined, analytically intelligent and adaptable, charmingly cute, and has a wickedly dry sense of humour (I'm just guessing on that last one). Leave it to beavers to be the surprisingly apt ambassadors of the true north strong and free.

The busyness of beavers.

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