Saturday, May 3, 2008

Nature's Woodsman -- Not!

May 3, 2008
I don’t know about this nature’s woodsmen talk. I have to say, if a person behaved in the woods like a beaver did, he’d be doing hard time or at least would be getting picketed by the Sierra Club.

These little furry guys gnaw away at any tree in their territory, at random, killing just about all of them by girdling the bark. Then, they will have a lucky tree fall (maybe one in twenty) where they can actually use it to impound some water and make a lodge.

If I sound a little bitter, maybe it’s because of the many thousands of dollars spent on the island eleven years ago, right after purchase—bringing in a real woodsman to climb and fell the ten trees that were long dead from our friend, the beaver. Happily the woodsman was also a man who loved and observed the natural world and he gave some good advice.

“Wrap a metal fence around your remaining trees, and don’t forget to make the fence tall enough to allow for snow drifts in winter. Nothing like having a beaver girdle a tree above the fence to drive you crazy.”

So that’s what we’ve done, and now the beaver and I are in an uneasy friendship. I get a real kick out of kayaking to their lodges off the edge of the lake and up rain creek. The slap of a beaver tail right behind your boat will make you jump every time—and it reminds me of how precious our neighborhood is.