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Beaver lake story 

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May 30/2004   
Beaver lake story by Stan Gielewski

One of the things Canada is famous for is how big it is. Comparing to its size there are very few people living here - and a lot of animals. Wherever you live, when you go for even a short drive you will soon face the wilderness and the true occupants of this land. There are plenty of them living here. Birds, reptiles, amphibians, mammals, fish, insects - you name it.

Unlike the middle of Canada, which is mostly prarries, the Eastern part is riddled with countless lakes, streams and ponds. With not as many of them here as in Ontario, the British Columbia is a gem of the Canadian landscape. Having both mountains and the ocean, it offers endless explorations to any nature lover. It is almost impossible not to reflect and wonder about the things of the past ...

There are not many snapping turtles in British Columbia (and those that are have been probably born somewhere else, relocated and set free by their owneres here), but if you spend some time outdoors you are eventually bound to meet one of the creatures that are considered truly Canadian, like maple syrup - a beaver. Have you known, by the way, that it takes about 70 liters of the maple tree sap to produce just one liter of pure maple syrup ? The whole process of evaporating the water is very slow and it takes weeks. The result - you know it, especially if you like pancakes, a delicious smooth maple syrup ! So, if you ever want to give it a try and make your own syrup, make sure you will get yourself a big pot and have lots of patience ! If you would feel like loosing it - just remember, that it takes a lot of time and heart to make great things.

Beavers can be met in the summer, when they become active feeding and working on their famous dam construction projects. You can't see them in the winter, when they sleep in their 'log houses'. That's right, beavers feed on tree barch and with their strong teeth, called incissors, they cut branches and even large trees which they use later to build their houses and dams.

In February I went on a day trip with my friends to the Pitt Lake in Lower Fraser Valley, BC, not far from Vancouver. I haven't seen any beavers at that time, but there were signs of their presence all over the place (mind you, British Columbia around Vancouver is not very cold in the winter and the temperatures seldom drop below the freezing point).

I walked along the path by the channel between two marshes connecting eventually to two lakes on each side.

As I walked I soon noticed some freshly cut branches.

Soon I saw the path where the beavers commuted carrying up and down the branches to the water.

I decided to climb down and after a short walk through the bushes I got to an open area. Wow ! I was in the beaver land ! As soon as I got there I found signs of beaver activity all over the place. There were small water channels dug by the beavers. There were going inland and were built to make it easier for the beavers to pull cut down branches all the way into the lake.

There were also small mounds of mud piled along them - that's where the beavers were disposing the mud from digging.

On the way back, along the marsh, I even found a proof that besides being engineers beavers can also be quite artistic !

I thought to myself, that in a way they are a lot like me. I am sure we can learn from each other a lot and I promissed to see them more often in the future. Hanging around them on this day made me realize again something I always knew, and my wish is that everyone would know it too - that there is nothing more precious than a warm, peaceful and loving home...

If you are curious about my photography please visit the Turtle & Nature Store

More reading & related links:
        Basic snapping turtle info in one file - Introduction to snapping turtles.pdf (116 Kb)  


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