|The beavers who live on our section of the Muskoka River are an industrious, engaging lot. Just pull up a chair on|
the riverbank and wait for a few minutes and one or more of the beavers will swim by, always in a hurry, always
with important business to attend to. My family loves watching these furry engineers; it's one of the best
things about living by the river. This photo was taken by Erin Monett of Everimages on our wedding day.
A whole year has gone by since Dave farted in bed and drove me to the computer where, with nothing else to do while the fumes cleared, I started a blog.
I have a few rather ingenious ideas for celebrating and the first is to finish a story for me!
I started writing it tonight and I liked the way it was going but didn't know how to finish it.
So instead of fluffing off some lame ending I thought I'd ask you to write something for me. I'll print all the entries sent my way and then reveal a winner. I might even take your endings to my writers' group and have them pick a winner for me. That way there won't be any favouritism. (I am, however, quite receptive to bribery.) I'll send a great big fat Muskoka prize package to the winner. Hoo boy!
Here's the story. It's called:
Leave it to Beavers
Other things should have occupied the mind of Elizabeth Donaldson but her thoughts always returned to the beavers.
She was worried about them. Worried that the rising water would flood the road.
Elizabeth and her husband Vern lived beside the Red Canoe River in Ontario’s near north. Elizabeth had a stressful job in the city but there was no amount of corporate nonsense that could linger when she sat in a Muskoka chair by the water, listening to chickadees calling to their friends, “look! there’s sunflower seeds in the feeder! come now-dee-dee-dee-dee”; watching pine needles and dessicated maple leaves float downstream in the sleepy current; waiting for a fish to jump, or a flock of honking Canada geese to do a fly-by, or a beaver to surface and swim soundlessly by the dock.
They never had to wait long to see a beaver. There were more than a few of them living on that stretch of the river. All busy, all the time, they moved through the water ignoring Elizabeth and Vern like teenaged girls trying to look busy at a school dance. They always had some place important to go, those girls, as they rushed by boys they were trying to attract, not meeting them in the eye, not acknowledging their existence, but senses acutely attuned to any movement the boys might make. “The beavers are like those girls,” Elizabeth told Vern one day.
“Ayuh,” Vern said, “and you better believe they are keeping an eye on us as they go by.”
“Did you see the road today?” Elizabeth asked.
“Water’s getting close to the road,” Vern said. “I saw.”
“I hope you’re not right,” she said, knowing he was. “Do they stand any chance at all if the township takes out the culvert at this point?”
Vern shrugged. “I don’t know. Maybe. Usually beavers have a back-up house. If they do, and they work really hard at stashing more food away, and if the rest of November stays mild and the river doesn’t freeze, they might be okay.”
It was a lot of mights, Elizabeth realized.
“But if the township waits until the end of the month to do something about the culvert, they might as well just kill the beavers outright.”
Elizabeth looked at her husband sadly. “Oh Vern,” was all she said.
They thought maybe they could pull a bit of mud and sticks out of the culvert, leaving enough water to keep the beavers happy but stopping the water from flowing onto the road. But the beavers had done their job too well and the culvert was jam-packed.
On the last Monday of November Elizabeth turned off the highway onto their road and was stopped short by a sign that read “Road closed at bridge.” Her house was on the other side of the bridge but she had a dread feeling in her stomach that this closure had something to do with the beavers.
Up ahead she saw sawhorses with bright signs on them announcing “Road Closed.” She saw Vern’s pick-up truck stopped in front. She pulled in behind him and parked the car. Vern was standing at the edge of a deep pit where the culvert used to be. The old one, still filled with river detritus, lay twisted and tangled at the side of the road. A new one lay ready for morning.
The pond the beavers had spent all summer building was empty. Their lodge was ripped down. A rank musty smell rose from the muck. Elizabeth gagged. “Where are the beavers?” she said, sweater pulled up over her nose.
“They’re in the river,” Vern said. “They’ve been swimming back and forth, here. Looking for the culvert, I bet.”
Elizabeth felt sick.
You've got until Sunday to send me an ending but, gawd, it should only take you a half an hour to whip this off. Even if you're off there in nano-land you could probably do it in your sleep.
E-mail the thing to me here.
No more rules.
Whaddya waiting for?
Whaddya waiting for?