Sunday, April 25, 2010

Of Beavers, Rivers and the Moon

I saw a beaver in the wild for the first time as I crossed the Capitol Street bridge at dusk this evening. The beaver was cruising upstream near the north bank of the Boise River. I had stopped to listen to the rapids and watch the nearly-full moon rise behind a light mist. I lingered to dream of another river trip.

For several years River Buddy Jim and I paddled a river in the West each summer. The desert sun distilled away the unimportant parts of our lives and left the sweet gooey essence of life on the river. We got up when the birds chirped, paddled hard all day, scared ourselves witless in the rapids, ate gargantuan meals, then relaxed in the evening and told lies while drinking malt-based beverages. We spread our sleeping bags on the sand at night then did it all over again the following day.

We timed our trips to start shortly after a full moon: even on the first night Jim could see the stars after the sun set but before the moon rose above the walls of whatever canyon we were running. Each night his star gazing window lengthened as the moon rose later. The moon always filled the canyon with light several hours after that when I climbed out of my bag to walk to the edge of the river to recycle beer, listen to the rapids, and watch the moon.

But in all those visits to the river at night I never saw a beaver.