BEAVERS IN THE MIST
Last evening my wife and I were bored. The type of boredom where you each stare at the other hoping he (or she) can come up with something that will be a game-changer - or at least a little bit fun.
"I got nothing." was my contribution.
My wife (who by the way may be the best woman on the planet and recognizes fun when she sees it) suggested we go look for beavers.
For those of you not from Colorado Springs and aren't acquainted with Monument Valley Park, there are two municipal parks close to downtown Colo Spgs: MVP and Memorial Park. The later is good if you are looking for a sporting event. We were not. We were after the elusive beaver.
Over by the old Van Briggle Pottery Mill, not far from Uintah Avenue, is a pond. Barbara and I had gone to this pond once (in the middle of the day) before looking for the beaver family that supposedly lived (and even had built a dam) in these wet environs.
We came to find out (from an article in the Gazette) that optimal beaver viewing time was after seven in the evening. This same article mentioned a fellow named Gordon who'd been viewing, photographing, and generally hobnobbing with these buck-toothed mammals for the past decade. Rumor had it that this guy knew everything there was to know about the local beaver population.
"Time?" I asked.
"Seven-Oh-Five," my wife responded.
"Conditions are favorable."
And we were off.
We arrived in the park as the sun was declining onto Pikes Peak. Reds, and oranges and golden yellows were filling the sky. A light breeze wafted through our hair as we emerged from our car. The pond was a two minute walk from the lot. We were hopeful. As we approached the pond from the walking path that looked down on it we saw him.
"It's the Beaver Guy!" Barbara said excitedly. And she was right. Tall with a long white beard, the Beaver Guy from the newspaper stood at the edge of the pond, camera in hand. Not two feet from him, a pair of beavers were splashing in the water.
"Oh my God," my wife whispered.
We didn't want to make too much noise. For all we knew, this man had waited for hours to get these critters to come this close. We sure didn't want to scare them off. Breath held, with grins like loons I'm thinking, we watched until two glistening figures swim across the pond toward what looked like every beaver abode I'd ever seen. Then Gordon the Beaver Man stepped aside. At the very water's edge sat the fattest, furriest beaver I'd ever seen. Gordon turned to us. "Come on down. He won't hurt you."
Still trying to be cool, we scurried down to the water's edge. The beaver didn't budge. The beautiful thing just sat there munching on cottonwood leaves (It's one of their favorite diet items, I'm told. Who knew?)
At that moment, I decided I would stand there and watch this little snacker as long as he (I was told he was the papa) deemed it pleasant to hang with us. While I watched the beaver, again with a stupid grin on my face, Gordon told me about the history of this little mammal family. There were four of them: papa, mama, and two babies, who weren't all that small. In his soft voice, Gordon also told my wife and I about other denizens of this municipal pond.
"There's a snapping turtle that been eating the newborn ducklings." He gave a blow-by-blow of how the turtle would swim up under a duckling grab a foot and drag the hapless baby down into the depths where it would drown and the reptile would eat it. "There used to be five. Now there's only two."
As he spoke of a great blue heron that occasionally visited the pond, the bird himself (or herself, I couldn't tell) swooped over us and landed in the pond. In typical heron style it stood on one leg like that was the most natural pose in the world.
Gordon also spoke of a giant frog that lived in this city pool of water. He made his hands into a shape as big as a dinner plate. I would have loved to have seen this bad boy - I am a great lover of amphibians. Alas, this particular frog failed to show.
All the while Gordon is regaling us with these tales, the beavers are swimming back and forth from their home to the water's edge. At one time, one of the babies even proceeded to crawl out of the water. He only crawled a few steps onto dry land before he changed his mind but it was very cool.
Somewhere in the course of our visit, Gordon found out that I was a writer. It seems he would like to write a book himself, a children's book. It would be about the critters in the pond and narrated by the frog, who must keep a wary eye out for the heron and the turtle. I think I would buy this book.
Well, the sun dipped below the peak and eventually it was time to go. We said goodbye to Gordon, the Beaver Guy. Shadows turned into collected darkness as we walked to our respective cars. I took my wife's hand, and she was still grinning as I opened the door for her.
"Let's come back tomorrow night."
That sounded like a great idea.