A little ‘tail’ from my evening walk

Tuesday, 12 January 2021

Let me share with you a little tale that begins with my walk this evening.

Darkness has fallen, the air is mild and still. It’s quiet, I can hear my footsteps crunching the packed snow as I walk along the trail, heading to the river. No stars nor moon can be seen under the thick low ceiling of cloud. A glow of light pollution, possibly the pot plant illuminating the night sky, is visible in the eastern sky.

The blanket of snow, like a night light, brightens the area so I can almost see where I’m walking. The trees are silhouettes against the snow, mere shadows standing tall around me. I can make out shapes but not details.

As I round a small bend in the trail, the river becomes visible. The snow covered ice visible from a distance, next to the darkness of the open water. Two silhouettes on the ice become visible to my squinting eyes. What am I seeing, I wonder as I squint even more, trying to force my brain to recognize the two dark areas on the ice. As I move closer, one moves away from the other. My first thought is they are turkeys. It appears one is stuck in the ice and the other is keeping it company.

I continue walking, getting closer to the river. The turkeys slip into the water. Not turkeys then. Must be otters. I stopped for a moment to listen, hearing grunts. My eyes scanning the dark water, squinting, searching for the otters, to no avail. I continue on my walk, moving to the edge of the river bank to take a night photo.

This is what I saw, a dark night, snow covered ice and open dark water with a glow in the eastern sky. ©WQuinn 2021
This is the same scene but taken with the night sky feature on my phone, which lightens the image considerably.
©WQuinn 2021

As I’m trying to hold the phone still to take the night photo, the grunting becomes louder and sounds closer. I look down, several times, to ensure it hasn’t moved closer while I was preoccupied with taking pictures.

Just then an explosion occurs. Time stands still, slow motion-like, as I hear what sounds like an explosion and watch the ice just slightly move, the open water splashing ever so lightly. The sounds and sights reminiscent of the spring ice blasting on the Rideau river.

Then it becomes clear to me. It’s a beaver. It just slapped its tail!

What a force of nature!

I took its warning to heart, turning away from the river to continue on my walk. Then I remembered this past August when I was stargazing by the river and had a run in with a beaver. It slapped its tail several times until I finally gave in and moved up the hill away from its space.

Territorial little force of nature!