For the past three warm summer evenings, I have tiptoed, in the most intentionally stealthful manner I could muster, around the perimeter of this quiet little pond, in the center of the Partridgeberry Woods neighborhood, where residents sit for hours with their fishing lines out, kids enjoy kayaking adventures, wildflowers bloom, little "fairies" (dragonflies) alight on the pond vegetation and blue herons swoop in for a rest.
As the evening moon rises in the sky, bullfrogs start their nightly serenade, echoing each other's croaks across the water.
Suddenly, the tranquility of the quiet is broken by the angry slap of a beaver's tail, signaling the other beavers of "danger" ... that danger being my presence, as I have been detected.
The sky's reflection in the pond ripples rapidly as the beaver quickly dives below, swimming deeply and secretly away from the location I unknowingly approached too closely.
Not having seen the beaver in time, the sound was unexpected, but the experience was intriguing and my interest in the beaver's activity is cultivated.
The next day, I wander back to the pond.
I have been educated by the homeowners surrounding the pond and have discovered "it is not just one beaver ... it is a family of beavers!"
I am told by neighbors that they have fondly named them: "Justin Beaver," "Bucky Beaver" and "Leave It to Beaver."
As I steal around the pond's edge for a second night in a row, the damage I witness is extensive.
Their work is sharp, neat and precise.
They have built two large lodges on opposite ends of the pond.
About halfway around the pond, I unintentionally come upon a very large beaver, "Justin" I am assuming, and I hear him chomping away at the water's edge.
As I slowly take steps toward him, he tilts his nose into the air, becomes aware of me, and without a sound, gently glides away from me, circling around, and then piercingly slaps the water and dives below.
I attempt to see the direction he goes, watching for evidence of his return, but the pond is still and he is under water for a very long time.
I sit on the bank and wait.
Eventually, he re-surfaces, realizes I am still there, actually looks directly at me, and swims away, without a second slap of the tail.
I do not see him again on this evening.
At dusk on the third evening, I make my way around the pond again.
The work that has taken place in the last 24 hours by the oh-so-very-busy-beavers is incredible.
Several new logs, the branches and bark neatly stripped and removed, have been added to the lodge on the northern side of the pond.
But the big surprise is the massive birch tree that has been downed, a birch tree that had a nine- or 10-inch trunk, and that now lies at rest, 30 feet into the pond.
It wasn't there the night before. I am drawn to the downed birch tree by the very audible sounds of gnawing and chomping.
It is within the curtains of the birch trees branches that I come across one very hungry beaver, enjoying the fresh leaves that float so accessibly on the pond's surface.
Then I jump slightly, being startled by the slap of the tail of a second beaver, almost completely hidden under the branches. Both beavers dive into the pond, and the larger of the two returns, circles around, and then swims right towards me ... or so I think. I back up a few steps, thinking that it looks like he's going to come right up to the shore where I am standing, but he turns, and re-situates himself back among the branches and resumes his dinner.
He keeps an eye on me, and I am barely three feet away.
I sit down on the bank and watch him.
He shows no fear.
Apparently, I have gained his trust.
"Justin" and I are comfortable in each other's presence ... for now.