Beaver are a sure sign of summer -- or at least a sure sign of beaver.
Over in South Paris, one day while visiting the woodland trail system I was voluntarily caring for, I came across a long beaver dam. It was built in the direction I wanted to go, so I walked across it. Those beaver sure did me a favor, providing a walkway in the direction I was heading.
In Swanville, right below our house that was a short distance above the lake, a colony of beaver each year built their dam on a twenty-foot-wide brook that flowed into the lake. Of course, humans had to enter the picture in a negative way, so a group of camp owners dynamited the beaver dam to get rid of the pesky not-so-little critters.
It would have worked too, if the beavers had cooperated. But instead, they returned and had half rebuilt their dam by noon of the next day. Since our house was far from the brook, we didn't care much. But it drove the camp owners, whose camps were near the brook, nuts. They were frustrated. We thought it was funny.
In Acadia National Park, there are trails and paved walks where evidence of beaver action is all around. There are felled trees nearby, and if it's near water, their round homes are starting to be visible. I've stood and watched beaver, usually not at work but at swim. They come right along, as long as they are unaware of our presence. But when they learn we're watching, there is a quick, loud slap of their tales on the water, and they disappear.
I've never been really close to beaver, and I don't think I want to be. I've been close enough to see how big those front teeth are, the teeth that chew down trees. If they can chew trees that well, I sometimes wonder what they could do to me.
I don't want to learn the answer.
In the Southwest Harbor part of Acadia National Park is a road that crosses just above the water. at the shore. Generally, the beaver at some point plug up a little tunnel through which water from a pond flows down into the ocean. It would be fun to hear the rangers swear, but I never have. Maybe they're not allowed to when the public, me, is around.
Sometimes those little critters manage to flood the road at that spot. I've carefully driven a tourist bus through those flood waters. One other bus driver, I heard, somehow stalled in the middle of the flooded area. Number one rule for driving where beaver have flooded a road. Drive very slowly, very. That way the water probably won't rise high enough to stall the engine -- probably.
I've experienced deer walking to within fifty feet of me and beginning a conversation. Other people never believe that, but other people weren't there. I've had moose walk toward me, displaying their hugeness which greatly intensifies my frightness, the closest maybe twenty feet away. I once had partridge peck at my boots, why I had no idea and still don't. I've had hawks and owls fly so close to me I could hear the air sliding off their wings.
I once was attacked by a rabid fox.
But no beaver has ever chased or in any other way threatened me.
But, because of those front teeth, if they did, I'd run.
I think I can outrun a beaver.
Milt Gross can be reached for corrections, harassment, or other purposes at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Milton M. Gross Copyright 2014