One doesn’t generally expect to find giant mutant rodents in their backyard. It’s the stuff of B horror movies with really bad special effects. We live in a big cookie cutter community where your neighbors are close enough to hear you fart on the back porch. But one nice feature: our house backs onto a lake and a pond separated by an earthen levee. A gap in the levee has been bridged by what appears to be a beaver dam. Any actual beavers, however, remain as elusive as the Loch Ness Monster. Statistics show that on any given day of the week, there are more UFO sightings than beaver sightings.
The only time I had seen a beaver was at a location so remote that a run to the store for diapers involved a 50 mile round trip over potholes big enough to swallow a Mini Cooper whole. Don’t think I didn’t consider making a loincloth out of moss and tree bark for my toddler.
Recently we’ve had a lot of rain, so the pond has backed up across the nature trail and into the neighbors’ back yards. My husband, Dave took it upon himself to go knock down the top of one end of the dam to allow for some drainage. Every day Dave knocked it down, and every night it would magically get repaired. We attributed this to the elusive rodents, since an Army corp of engineers on night maneuvers seemed unlikely.
Last night, I was sitting on my porch when I witnessed something doing a cannonball off the dam. I grabbed the binoculars, and sure enough, I saw a furry looking head swimming back and forth near the dam. Dave and I decided to walk out on the levee for a closer look through the dusky gloom.
We reached a break in the bushes surrounding the pond and saw three beavers swimming a scant 20 to 30 feet from us. As one of them started swimming straight toward us, a story problem started to form in my head. If a beaver can swim the length of a semi in 6.2 seconds, and I am standing the length of two Volkswagon Beetles away, how long will it take him to gnaw my leg off.
Four things occurred to me: 1) It was now too dark to see the trail 3 feet away from me; 2) I was standing next to the dam buster and probable cause of the ire of paddle-tailed pond residents; 3) beavers can walk on land; 4) beavers can bite through trees. I prepared myself to throw Dave to the ground and run away screaming, “He did it!” … like a grown-up. I love my husband, but it was him or my ankles.
Dave continues to tempt the laws of nature whenever it rains and the pond backs up. I don’t actually know what beavers eat, but if they show up in my backyard with torches and pitchforks, I won’t be serving milk and cookies. I may have to throw Dave out the back door to prevent a riot, but he kind of has it coming.