Aggressive Tendencies In Beavers?

There's this secluded little swimming hole that I discovered about a ten minute drive from my house. A small pull off on the side of the road and a short hike will take you to a large pond used as a nature conservation area.

I have rarely seen anyone there, even on the fourth of July when it was 90+ degrees, although there is evidence that kids come and hang out around a bonfire at night. I feel very comfortable skinny dipping there, it is so completely private.

The surface is always warm from the sun and about three feet below it becomes refreshingly cool... almost cold in spots. After a swim there, my hair feels so clean and wonderful that I won't wash it again for days.

One hot afternoon, I made my way out there for a pleasant and relaxing day of laps in the spring fed water. I dove in and swam out to the middle and began to scan around the shore. A fair distance away I saw a brown head poking out of the water, obviously looking at me. As I observed the observer observing me, I realized that this creature was getting larger and the distance between us was getting smaller.

It occurred to me then that this critter was far more adept at moving through the water than I was, in spite of the fact that I am a fair swimmer. Wild animals have teeth and claws, and I understood at once that this was likely to be a beaver making a direct bee-line for me. Beavers have big teeth.

I swam as efficiently as I could for shore, in a little bit of a hurried panic. The head matched my trajectory and the gap closed further. I pulled myself out of the water and watched as the beaver arrived at my previous locale, changed its heading and swam to the opposite shore.

This pond is narrow and long, so the opposite shore was not far enough away for me to feel entirely comfortable with resuming my swim. I guess I don't need to mention that I was feeling a little less relaxed at this point. Several minutes went by and my furry friend remained on the other side, diving and hunting, so I finally grew a set and jumped back in.

Not a minute after I had, Ms. Beev turned her attention back toward me and began to rapidly approach. Once again I raced to my rock and leaped out of the water. This was getting ridiculous, I thought beavers were friendly, but this one clearly had decided that she didn't want me in her pond (at least this was my perception).

I resigned myself to simply enjoying the peace and tranquility from dry land and decided to take out my camera and photograph the beautiful scenery. After snapping several shots and attempting to set up the self timer for a few personal portraits, I heard a loud snort behind me. I turned to see the large mama right next to my rock checking me out!

Camera in hand, I started capturing the moment. She paced back and forth in front of my stone landing, snorting, splashing and well, laughing. She got the better of me for sure. This lady beaver was at least 3 and a half feet from stem to stern, and easily 50 pounds. If she wanted to, she could have taught me a lesson I would never forget.

I chose not to swim again there that day, and returned home to google "aggressive tendencies in beavers." I learned that they are quite gregarious and only tend to be territorial when their yearlings are ready to leave the lodge... in late summer. Aha.

Worm's Turmoil

This morning I awoke and decided that instead of rushing around juicing carrots, making homemade broth and miso for my mother who was still recovering from surgery in the nursing home, I would take some time for me. I lolled in bed leisurely, trying to ignore that guilt-inspired need to hurry. After checking email and goofing around on Facebook for a while, I laced up my trainers and went out for my 5 mile loop. After 2 days of rain and being shut up visiting Mom, I was ready to enjoy the warm, clear spring morning.

I didn’t make it very far before I started to notice several worms on the wet pavement beginning to writhe in the warm sun. I picked them up, one at a time and tossed them into the grass; however, this didn’t seem sufficient to save their little lives. As I continued along, stooping every couple of feet to pick up another suffering worm, I began to notice that their numbers were increasing. In the shade of a wet leaf I would find thirty or more huddled together trying to maintain moisture. 

I scooped up handful after handful of wriggling earthworms and laid them carefully in shallow trenches I scraped out with a stone, covering them with clods of cool moist soil. Some struggled to escape from my cupped palm, while others were very reluctant to have me pick them up at all, despite the fact that they were facing certain death. A few worms actually began to move toward me after I had liberated their compatriots from the rapidly warming tarmac; I felt that they sensed on a psychic level that I was there to help. 

My walk had to be abbreviated to a mere 2 miles that day, rescuing worms took precedence over working off last night’s pizza. The sun was high by the time I made my way back along the road where the worms had been; their dried up dead bodies littered the pavement. It made me sad to see the clumps -mass graves of worms- that I hadn’t reached in time. Next time the sun comes up after a long, soaking rain, I intend to get out earlier and collect as many as I can rescue and relocate them to my garden or compost pile.

Hawaiian Soul-Journ part VII: Navigating the Path

On my second day at the sacred beach called Polihale, I made another pilgrimage to the enormous pali’s at the end of the earth. I so much desired to be free of my pain, my heartache, my confusion, and all of my baggage. (Yes. All of it. At once. Let’s get this done already!) I located a good writing stick and began a personal ceremony to “name it,” “claim it,” and then purge it.

I started by drawing Reiki symbols in the sand and meditating, then I got up and began to write in the sand all that I wished to let go of, one at a time. I consciously felt into each item on the list before I inscribed the word upon the sand: my former fiancĂ© who had so deeply wounded my heart this year, my former business partner and best friend whose path and mine had so recently separated, my ex-husband who was with me at this very spot the last time I visited more than a decade earlier… and that was just the beginning of the people I needed to release! 

After I cleansed my psyche of the names and their immediate emotional associations, I got to work on taking ownership of my own personally perceived flaws. I pulled up everything I could, resonating with every dark thought, every bullying internal voice, every insecurity; one by one I allowed the ocean to erase the words while again and again I forgave myself for not being perfect. This took a long time.

Once I felt fairly emptied out, I sent my psychic roots out of my soles and deep into Mother Earth, receiving love and offering gratitude, filling myself with light. I felt a lot of weight come off that morning, but knew that there was still more work to do. I went to sleep that night anticipating the powerful ceremonies yet to come; the solstice was in two days, followed by a full lunar eclipse.

The rain began to fall that night while I slept, and I knew that the dirt road to this remote spot would quickly become impassible. I awoke to light drizzle and decided to explore the other end of the long beach anyway; I walked for a couple of hours, scanning for special shells and feeling the rain clouds thickening. The waves were getting bigger and soon there was quite a population of surfers arriving on the beach in their monster trucks, then the rain came in earnest.

It was not going to be clearing up, this much was now evident; I had only enough food and water for about 3 more days, and the ice in my cooler was all but completely melted. My Honda Accord was no “Grave Digger” and it wasn’t SUNDAY SUNDAY SUNDAY!!! So needless to say, I had a decision to make: either stay, biding my time in the tent until the way out was drivable again (but I had no idea how long that might be), or take my chances on the already flooded roads -that would only continue to get worse- in order to git while the gittin’ was good.

Frustrated, I broke camp in the rain, cursing loudly; I wanted so much to be at this place for a powerful solstice ceremony, I had been planning it for months. I felt like the spirits of Polihale were kicking me out and it made me feel like a failure, but I could see no other way; I would not have made it another week. I finally got my wet, sandy tent packed up and all my gear stowed back in the car; bedraggled and dejected, I started the car and headed out toward the access road.

This five mile, heavily rutted and uneven thoroughfare is really just a farm road that runs along the edge of a sugar cane plantation; even under the most ideal, dry conditions it takes more than 20 minutes to get from one end to the other. When I got to the dirt road, my jaw dropped; it was much worse than I had imagined it would be. The road was almost completely washed out; enormous stretches of deep muddy puddles sprawled over the entire width of the road, some several car lengths long. There was no telling just how deep they were, or where the best place to drive through would be; I was screwed.

Picking my way carefully around the edge of the first “pond” I saw a souped-up Toyota Tacoma coming up on my rear. “I’d better let him pass,” I thought. “He doesn’t want to get stuck behind me!” I navigated the puddle and pulled way over to give him room to get around me and my little Honda. To my surprise, this mini-monster truck –with a chassis 3 feet high and big dirt-eating tires- didn’t go blasting through the mucky playground leaving me to eat his mud-pies. Instead, this Ambassador of Aloha carefully navigated the shallowest aspect of each wet trench and waited for me to follow suit.

White-knuckled, I followed the Toyota through every slippery mud-hole, navigated flooded trenches and rejoiced every time I made it. I was remembering the last time I had been on this road in similar conditions and all the abandoned, stranded vehicles that littered the road. With each soggy ditch I left behind however, my confidence grew and I began to shout “YEE HAW!” My tires sprayed sticky sludge in my wake and I spun the wheel and did hole-shots like a true country hick. When the furrows were especially long and deep, my rescuer drove fast right down the center and telepathically I knew to get right up on his bumper and ride in his wake where his truck had displaced the water.

Filth splashed all over my little car, and the windshield was getting very difficult to see out of, but I knew better than to run the wipers while the path ahead was still so treacherous; it would only make a bigger mess. Finally, there was a decent stretch of road without a puddle for about 50 yards, so I hit the washer/wipers and prayed that there was enough fluid in the reservoir to do the job before I got to the next grimy gully ahead. Did I mention that the windshield wipers have a trick to shut them off? It requires a Zen-like patience to get the lever into just the right spot while the wiper arms are positioned correctly. I nailed it on the first try; I was in the zone.

Eventually, I saw the end of the road approaching and was filled with ecstatic joy at what I had just accomplished. I woot-wooted a few times, nailed it and oversteered for one last thrill. My champion in the Tacoma celebrated by taking an even more off-road route parallel to the path I was on and racing me to the end, then he detoured for a little more fun. I got to the end, pulled over and ran my wipers again while waiting for his truck to emerge. When the Toyota appeared, I enthusiastically gave him a “hang loose” and beeped my horn; I got a merry high sign in return.

My car was filthy, (and my driver-side window was down the whole time), I was shaking from adrenaline and realized that my diminished feelings of failure had been banished by the wonderful adventure made possible by the angel in the truck that had been sent to guide me to safety. The phone rang and on the other end of the line was my new friend asking me if I wanted to take a break from camping and crash out on his fold out couch. “Hell YES!” I replied; Kauai was letting me know that I was still in divine flow and I was so grateful for the message.