Sunday, January 27, 2013

Lessons from Beaver's Epic Journey

One benefit of commuting without a car is interaction with community. How often do you get to smile, wave, say hello to friends, acquaintances,  perfect strangers on your drive to work, brightening someone's day, maybe your own?  Active transportation facilitates these human encounters.  Non-human encounters can be pretty spectacular too.

After making returns at the library, Mikal and Mom stopped to visit with our new beaver friend. Beatrice (so named by Viv during our first encounter) clearly had her own agenda involving some tender clover, so we continued on for our own food foraging at New Seasons, hoping we'd see her again on the trip back to meet Viv after work for her commute home.

We were in for a surprise upon return to find that our flat-tailed furry friend had advanced from a clover appetizer to an entree of tender sapling.  It looked like she had just finished the job of taking it down.  In the first video below she seems to be assessing her next move, or perhaps scoping her overall route.

With decision apparently made, Bea sets to work diligently dragging the felled tree toward the curb, making several rest stops to catch her breath before continuing.

Going down over the first curb required a few attempts before successful navigation over the edge. 



Next came the journey across the driveway and an easier step up the next curb.  A few other folks began to take notice at this point.


What else can I say about this photo but EPIC.  We have magical encounters with nature almost every day just beyond our front door that we never would have seen on a routine car trip to the library and grocery store.  Why would we ever want sit in that cold steel box again and miss an opportunity like this one?


Next Bea made her way to the water's edge. She seemed to have a specific route in mind to get to where she wanted to be.


We filmed for almost 3 minutes - felt like an eternity - watching to find out whether the tree would become lunch or building materials.  So far, we haven't seen evidence of a lodge or dam anywhere nearby.


The tree proved to be lunch, starting with the slimmer branches.  It was so much fun to watch Bea gnaw off the bark while rolling the branch just like we humans would rotate an ear of corn.  We left Bea to eat without spectators and collected Viv and new checkouts from the library to tote with the groceries.



By the time we came back around on our way home, Bea was sectioning off pieces of the trunk to gnaw on. It was pretty amazing to watch the hand-like beaver paws in action.  You can really see them in the part 7 video below!

Here are a couple of websites to learn more about beaver, once hunted to near extinction in North America for their pelts:

Oregon Wild
Beavers: Wetlands & Wildlife

You might also enjoy reading about beaver medicine:  

Beaver: Power Animal, Symbol of Group Mind, Master Creator and Builder 

Beaver's epic journey offers us many lessons.  The excerpt below struck carfree mom as most meaningful.  Hope you have enjoyed reading/watching and will share and/or comment! 
I'm sure most of you will have had many grand ideas, and for most of you the getting idea part is easy, but the problems have begun only when you have thought about actualising these into physical reality…and then the ideas have faded, just like dreams often fade when one wakes up. This is where you will find beavers medicine to be of great assistance. The beaver is one of the leading creators in the animal kingdom. They get an idea of what their home and also dam should be like, then fell trees with their sharp teeth and build intricate structures with several entrances and exits.

The many entrances and exits signify the importance of pliability when in the process of creation. Often when we imagine something we'd like to materialise in physical reality, we focus only on this vision. By doing this we forget that creativity doesn't finish, but begins with the vision, and that in the course of making something real we too change and grow. Often improvements are thought up whilst making a dream/vision reality. If you push these thoughts aside, you may find yourself stuck mid creation. Instead, bear these thoughts in mind and if you find it an improvement restructure your design accordingly, as the end product may be more awesome than you ever dreamed possible.  --Ina Woolcott


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