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The Martinez Beavers

Gimme that ol’ time beaver religion

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Finally a religious column I can get behind! It’s sunday, after all. Let us play.

A call to the wild…

Time passes, some memories never do.

The last two lines of Robert Service’s epic poem, ‘The Call of the Wild’ have inspired me for many years, and I would ask you to let it touch your soul now…

“There’s a whisper on the night-wind, there’s a star agleam to guide us,
And the wild is calling, calling… Let us go.”

Interspersed throughout the poem a summons repeats itself, three times, it is as follows, “Then listen to the wild– It’s calling you.” A while later the call is repeated, “Then hearken to the wild– it wants you.” And again, “But can’t you hear the wild?–It’s calling you.”

From my earliest days as a little, red-headed, barefooted boy tromping the Fox River, in Illinois, I have been answering that sublime call. I love nature, every aspect of the wild places.

Down at the edge of the swamp, the jack in the pulpits stood with their feet in the water in anticipation of my arrival while not far away a cluster of pale white Indian pipes bid me welcome.
For some reason swamps intrigue me, yes; those mysterious wet places, whether they be Northern cedar swamps or Southern cypress swamps, beckon to me, grip me, hold me enthralled, they always have.

I had been sitting on the edge of the beaver pond for some time, just watching, listening; waiting.

If you were to ask me what I was waiting for, I couldn’t give you an answer, but what I do know is that if one is patient and waits long enough something will usually happen.

Suddenly the woodland silence was broken. Somewhere to my left and in front of me, out there on the beaver pond, something was crooning? For the life of me, as I sat there listening, I couldn’t fathom the origin of that soulful song.

A moan, then silence…
I sat fascinated, wondering; staring out through the thick undergrowth that grew along the edge of the pond.

What had made the sound? I sat, hoping that whatever it was would bless me with more of its wild song and I didn’t have long to wait. A long, low moan, almost quivering in its expression.

For the next few minutes there would be a short time span of silence, perhaps lasting ten or fifteen seconds, and then another low moan. Fascinated, I waited and was now even more intently watching and listening for whatever was calling out there was very obviously swimming in my direction.

Ripples disturbed the pond’s surface, and I continued hearing those mysterious low, moaning cries.

I was surprised when an adult beaver swam along the shore line to pass in front of me perhaps fifteen feet away. As it swam, it moaned as it continued down the shoreline and out of sight, and also out of sound.

I had never heard a beaver sing before, and I have never heard the beaver’s song since. Can it be anything other than that, a beaver’s song?  Could it be that all of God’s creatures sing His praises? I wonder?

Ahhh the unexpected gift of beaver song at the pond! The author of this observation Charles Towne goes on to compare it to Christianity and our struggle for the divine, but I’m good with just the call. I don’t need larger symbolism. For me the call will always be the thing that brought me closer to beavers. Close enough to save them. I remember hearing that call and thinking, do the people that want them dead even know about that call? And if I let them die, when in my life will I ever hear it again?

The call was enough to enlist me 10 years in the defending beaver army, and that’s as close to religion as I’m likely to come at this stage in the game. Although apparently there are still miracles.

Yesterday we learned that Moses went to investigate that little dam below Susanna street and found another dam up stream from it and saw two beavers. So yes, I’m a believer. The second dam is a couple houses upstream from the Susanna street bridge, and not visible from any reasonable space. But it’s there. And you know I’m happy about it.

And for Rusty Cohn of Napa, there’s a new Church in town. This is downtown near the Kohl’s department store and a second beaver family with kits. Yesterday, he watched an adult climb up and grab a nice branch and both youngsters come toddling over to share. Remind us all of that age old drama “Mom, what’s for dinner?”

Mother and kits: Rusty Cohn

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2 comments on “Gimme that ol’ time beaver religion

Wow – I never knew they made a call like that <3


It’s an amazing video, isn’t it? I read that trappers sometimes used that call to catch them. It’s great to see it end peacefully!

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