The local ridge where I flew in New England runs ten miles, barely high enough to matter at the near end and twice as big further south. Lower slopes are covered with second growth hardwoods, easy tramping, but the ridge top itself is a densely tangled thicket of ancient vegetation, living and dead, impenetrable ten feet deep. No trails anywhere, except of the game variety.
Halfway between the low end and high end, a little rill of folded bedrock crosses a saddle on the ridge, adorned with a chain of four jewel-like beaver ponds set within low trees and high brush. Sometimes they reflect the sky’s blue, sometimes its gray, but more often their aquatic green is only a shade lighter than than the olive drab camo of the forest itself. Hiding in plane sight.
One day three of the ponds were placid, but the widest one looked like a minuscule phonograph record, concentric circles vibrating sunlight. That called for a closer look. (Blowing off altitude is so much more more fun when you have a real excuse, but that’s another yarn altogether!) Down on the treetops I did a double take… Really? Yup, two huge moose straight ahead, up to their knees in the drink.
Surprised them like they’ll never forget, then pulled quick and hard back around to see more. But they’d already galoshed their way to shore and ducked under cover, leaving the water a roiled and muddy brown.
No doubt the moose visited there more often than I did, but that’s the only time I saw them in sixteen seasons and who knows how many flybys. Yeah, so, because the ponds had no official name (who else even knew about them?) I christened them Moosey Lakes and promised myself to bushwhack up there someday for a respectful look around. What I didn’t know was, they too were in the process of disappearing.
Not long after my moose sighting, one of the beaver dams collapsed, leaving three green eyes to stare at the sky. Then a couple years later, my last there, another dam failed. Only two left. Sad to think I never did get up there on foot.
When I reconnoitered in 2010 via GoogleEarth, only one pond remained, and then in ‘13 nothing but a grassy bog. End of an era. Had the beavers just gone away, or been wasted by a rabid Second Amendment enthusiast? Who knows. Whatever else you say about life, it does go on.
Chasing that stream all the way up a mountainside to its very source before getting down to business must have required extraordinary eagerness, even for beavers. Yet eventually all their work was washed away. Would they ever return?
Well, in 2016 GoogleEarth revealed that a new dam had been erected at the lower end and a new pond was filling up again. The first of several? We may suppose that beavers (like the moose) have come and gone from this tiny corner of Paradise unnumbered times over millennia, and will continue to until we render them extinct.
Now it’s 2018, and wouldn’t you know, another new dam seems to be in place, collecting water to restore that wider pond where two moose once had a UFO sighting. After nearly forty years this current cycle is not quite complete, but looks like it won’t be much longer. Nice to know it can still happen. Not like I need an excuse to go there and soar that ridge again, but celebrating one full and prosperous cycle would surely qualify. And in the process why not finally make that ceremonial bushwhack up to Moosey Lakes!