Author’s Note: As background, my wife and I have been trying to see a beaver for the last couple months. We’re in the Beaver State after all. We went to a few spots, saw some gnawed trees, but always managed to be eluded by the big rodent. Until recently . . . My first meeting with the elusive beaver did not go as expected.
My wife and I stood at the edge of a marshy expanse. Even past 8 o’ clock in the evening, the sun, in the final legs of its journey, still bathed the waters and vegetation in a dull light. Sunset wasn’t until 8:57, so we still had time to find what we were looking for. An anxious energy spurned the shifting of our heads and eyes as we scanned the waters and shoreline.
We had heard from a reliable source this was the best place to catch a glimpse of a beaver.
A few ducks trolled the waters. Pollen shifted in the air. Bugs buzzed around us. No 60-pound rodent.
A shift in the water caught my eye.
“Look,” I whispered into my wife’s ear, pointing a finger at the water.
A few yards out from the shoreline where we stood, an unnatural ripple in the water was headed towards us.
The tension was palpable, my wife and I knew instinctively that the fateful moment had arrived, our efforts were to be rewarded. We reached for our phones.
The break in the water grew closer until there was no mistaking what it was. The beaver’s head, sleek brown fur, round black nose, and beady eyes, protruded slightly above the surface. The tip of its conical tail trailed behind like a pursuing bullet. It stopped within feet of the shore, its face clearly locked on us, exuding discontent through its half-submerged rodent face. My wife and I stared back, breath caught in our throats, phones held slackly in our hands.
“It’s looking right at us,” my wife said, lips barely moving.
In a swift motion, the beaver’s tail rose out of the water and came crashing down against the surface with a thunderous clap, the force of the swing so great that it sent the beaver into a roll, completely submerging the rodent. A nearby duck took flight in alarm and my wife and I jumped along with our hearts, exchanging glances with each other.
“It must be angry we’re here. Maybe we should go back,” I offered, still whispering.
“I want to get a video though,” my wife said, bringing her phone back up.
I gave a scared look back at the pond, the ripples of the tail smack still reverberating across the waters. Something in my gut said we should get out of there.
Like a rising submarine, the beaver’s head emerged to the surface again. Seeing the two of us, its eyes narrowed and it began to shift forward, webbed hind feet kicking steadily beneath the surface.
“Wow, it’s getting so close,” my wife whispered in awe. Her phone beeped signaling the start of a recording.
The beaver grew closer still.
More of the head and body became visible as the beaver entered shallower waters. Its feet touched the soft dirt of the shore and it shuffled the remaining steps until it was completely on dry land, its massive body unveiled in the dusk light. My wife and I’s exhaustive research of the beaver (a skim through the dedicated Wikipedia page) had said beavers, on average, weigh between 24 to 66 pounds, but can get up to 110 pounds. Maybe it was the awe speaking, but this beaver appeared to be in the latter category. A compact boat of brown fur with a black conical paddle hanging out the back.
The pond area was still. My wife and I stared at the beaver, breath caught in our throats. The beaver stared back, its rounded back rising and falling. A classic Western standoff. The beaver reached for his six-shooter first.
The rodent reared up on its hind legs, standing at least four-feet tall and brandished its orange incisors, large protruding rusted knives. Its front legs were poised in front of its broad chest, dexterous, nailed fingers twitching angrily. Foam frothed at the rodent's mouth. It took a step towards us.
Of course the first beaver we saw would be rabid and angry.
Shock to recognition. Recognition to action. My husbandly instincts kicked in and I placed a hand on my wife’s shoulder. Life was a struggle and you had to be prepared to steel yourself for battle if the occasion arose.
The battle of whether I could outrun my wife or not. I gave her a slight push forward towards the beaver and took off running in the opposite direction.
My desk worker legs and lungs didn’t carry me far before I was wheezing with my hands on my knees. My wife approached me moments later at a calm walking pace, an angry scowl emblazoned on her face, fists clenched.
I slept on the couch that night.
P.S. I didn’t actually push my wife.
P.P.S. I may have ran though.
P.P.P.S. I may have exaggerated some parts of this.