My Beaver is Dead
My beaver is dead.
Driving through the mist on my way to work this morning, I came upon a big brown lump in the road, and, as I held my breath, my eyes traced the line of its back to the fat, flat tail of a beaver. My beaver. I died then, too.
My beaver took up half the road; she was a legend, a myth, a giant, and a dream in the mist lying dead in the soft light of early morning.
My distant friend who would notice me night after night but would not disappear despite my heavy footfall was a marvel. This was the best part of my day, the very best part of my walk: to come across this wonderful creature being her marvelous self in the slick water of our little pond and through the pipes that lead to the sprawling swamp across the road. She was fun, fat, wonderful, and sure. She was capable and brilliant. I admired all she did to enrich our ecosystem, which was plenty.
That beautiful beaver would watch me as I watched her. So many years of being in the same place at the same time made that possible. These years have taught me that respect is a vibe, an understanding and an acceptance and an admiration--all of which come with time. Respect is not a right but an earned privilege. Anything less than that is merely tolerance.
One evening when I was watching the beaver and the beaver was watching me, a neighbor came along and asked me what I was staring at. "The beaver," I said.
Of course. She took out her cell phone and took pictures because her husband didn't believe in the beaver he had not seen. The beaver watched us as we watched her; this was a moment of pure, unrivaled joy. My neighbor has the evidence.
When I was out for a walk tonight, I came upon a mama Canada goose and her two goslings. No partner. Something else that isn't right with the world, I thought. Where was the papa? These three Canada geese were dangerously near the road on a gray, misty night. So near where the beaver had been killed. I stood and watched and waited while the three fed so near the road. I stood in the rain until I was drenched and they finally returned to a safe place away from the road and the fools in their self-important hurries.
You who hit the beaver: I hope your heart is broken. I hope you are ashamed of yourself--angry with and ashamed of yourself. You have robbed us. You have stripped us of a queen. I hope you feel it. Hate yourself for what you have done. For a little while.
Otherwise, we have no hope.