This winter has been warmer than usual but the ice on the beaver pond holds up enough for a trip back to check out how the pond engineers are spending the winter. They are at home deep in their beaver lodge snacking on tasty twigs and perhaps binge watching Netflix. They are far too busy in the summer for such idle distractions.
Their dam, which creates the pond, is three fields long yet, in summer, it only takes a single small breach to bring the inspectors out to fix the hole. Highly sensitive to running water, the beavers. In winter, when the water freezes, they don’t need to bother.
Their lodge, a large dome of mud and branches, can only be reached on foot in the winter. Fortunately for the inhabitants, the lodge becomes a frozen fortress, repelling the coyotes, foxes and wolves who smell a warm meal just a few feet down but cannot dig it out through the icy hardness. Evidence that they have tried hard is all around. They probably heard the beavers laughing at them too.
I don’t know if they ever come outside the winter. In fact, I don’t see how they could through all that ice. And why bother? The former farm pond, now just a deeper spot in the large beaver pond, is crammed with stored branches as their larder. A diet of wet bark may not be to everyone’s taste but seems to be a beaver delicacy. They are well stocked and have digestive systems way tougher than ours.
We all might wish we were as cosy and secure. The beavers might have a couple of young kits in there also which they will introduce the world in the spring. After a year or so of intensive engineering school, the kits will be kicked out to create their own ponds elsewhere. New babies need the space. Beavers are back in the region for good after so many long decades of being creatures only seen in books. Let’s be grateful for more water and more wetlands, more wildlife and, just maybe, some push back against our regular summer droughts, all thanks to this industrious rodent with the toothy smile. May it’s winter rest be full of holiday delights.