It was a warm June evening and my nephew and I set out to paddle the river in our kayaks across from my home in New Hampshire. I often paddle the river after work solo for some mental debriefing from the day's stresses. I'd been promising him for weeks that if we went out at sunset we might catch a glimpse of some wildlife. A lover of nature he is, I thought it would be a great experience for him to enjoy first hand what lives all around us in the shadows of the forest and along the river. As we set out on our evening paddle I pointed out along the banks different signs of wildlife such as buck rubs on the trees, coveys for the nesting birds, and a section of the river I have coined "Beaver Point" where there are several beaver slides into the water and collection of chewed tree stumps. Very seldom did I ever see the makers of these interesting accesses to the river.
We enjoyed a relaxing paddle taking in the sounds and playing the Nature Game of Alphabet Jeopardy. I made up a game when the children were smaller to learn the alphabet and help to open their eyes to different natural experiences identifying a sound or sight for each letter of the alphabet. We had floated the river upstream about a mile and were on our return downriver. We had gone through the entire alphabet once when we returned to the letter B. By this time it was dark and we coincidently were rounding "Beaver Point". I said at that moment, "Listen Brett, we may hear a beaver along the banks". Suddenly, as if those BEAVERS, and plural I might add, heard us they began to ambush us in our boats.
In the fading pink of twilight we could just barely see into the water much less at all along the bankings. For all around us beaver were sliding into the water from both sides of the river. Many swam right next to our boats and spanked that water like mad stalkers. We could feel the spray from their twisting dances of anger. Although slightly anxious by the encounter myself, I urged Brett to stop and raft up with me in the middle of the river. This was truly like nothing I had ever experienced.
We sat motionless in the river's darkness while nearly a dozen beaver displayed vengeful reminders for our intrusion. All around us they bobbed and swam in circles and continued to slap the water in anger and alarm to their fellow mates. We literally floated amongst this ambush for at least 10 minutes in total amazement.
Today, I still remember the look on Brett's face - jaw dropped, a wide-eyed boy. With equal amazement I'm sure I caught a few black flies that night as my mouth hung open in astonishment.
The moral of that story was...NEVER CRASH A BEAVER BASH!
Submitted by Tracey Madden - Dover, NH
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