Saturday, April 23, 2011

Good Friday - the Beaver, Owl and the Dog.

My brother Mark and I took a walk in a park called The Ledges yesterday. It is a really beautiful place, although the main portion is closed because of flooding last year. It is located on the Des Moines river. I have many memories from it from growing up. Well, yesterday Mark and I went for a walk in the upper part of the park. It was so quiet. It had been raining earlier in the day, but it was a very nice temperature. We were walking in a wooded area where this a tiny lake. The birds were singing, the flowers have started blooming and the air was crisp in my lungs. The temperature and rain was in perfect balance to leave raindrops hanging from the branches of the budding trees as glistening gems. They stayed hanging for our whole walk. I was inspired to touch my tongue to the raindrop a few times. I felt like a child - I had never done that before.

Then as we got down to the lake we saw a beaver in the water. In my whole life I have never seen a beaver so close. We were able to get within about 30 meters. Then another beaver swam up and they started grooming each other. We decided not to bother them so we went back up to the ridge around the little lake to continue walking around. As we were walking the beavers decided to swim to the other side of the lake, although I didn't pay much attention until we got to the opposite side.

At that point the trail we were on came within about 6 meters of the water. The larger of the two beavers decided to settle himself right where we could easily watch him eat the twig he was chewing on. Again, in 51 years I have never seen a beaver so close. They are normally a very shy animal and quite sensitive to humans. This one however, just sat there chewing right in front of us. I decided to see how close I could get before he decided to leave and was able to get about 3 meters away. He did not get upset with my intrusion, he just decided to swim calmly away. Both Mark and I have seen beavers in the wild, along the Skunk river, and they rarely could be approached closer than 100 meters. It was so great to see a wild animal in its natural environment, and so calm. I almost felt, and so did Mark, that he wanted to satisfy both our desires to see him as close as possible.

We continued our walk through the woods and then decided to leave after about an hour in the peace and serenity of the place. Then two more amazing animal interactions happened. We started leaving the park at a leisurely pace in Mark's van. It was about 7 pm, dusk. And then I saw a beautiful owl on the left side of the road sitting on a tree branch. It was incredible. And very close. When I saw it I told Mark to stop so we could get a better look at it, since we had passed it a little bit. Mark quickly stopped and then put the van in reverse to get straight view of the owl, but the noise of the brakes startled the owl and it flew a little way down the road, but not far. So we moved the car very slowly down the road 50 meters to get another look.

As Mark let the van roll slowly down the road I heard the strangest whimpering, crying sound. At first I kind of laughed saying "Mark, is that your van making that noise?", thinking it might be the brakes or a squeaky bearing or something. Then he stopped the van and the sound continued, and kind of got louder and I know we both recognized the sound as a whimpering dog. We both looked at each other, not speaking what we both feared - that we had somehow run over a dog, even though we did not see it run into the road.

I slowly got out of the van afraid to find a mangled dog under the wheel or something. But nothing was there. Then the whimpering continued. Then I realized that it was in the engine compartment. I was afraid to look to see a mangled animal, but told Mark to open the hood in any case. I opened the engine compartment and there was a little black dog sitting on top of the engine, actually on one of the things that can get extremely hot, the exhaust manifold. I was afraid to pick him up for finding a mangled leg from than cooling fan, or the alternator or fan belts. By that time Mark had gotten out so while I was holding the hood open he lifted the little dog out of the engine. She was in perfect condition. Scared, but her little tail was wagging as Mark picked her up. It was kind of like a Chihuahua.

Mark gave her to me and we began to try to figure out how she got there. We still don't know. The park is remote. There were no other people. The only houses are a long ways away. No reasonable way for a tiny dog like that to go wandering into the park and climb in the engine compartment. I said, "well Mark, it looks like you have a dog". He only said, "I can't have them.", because of the landlord.

So we decided to go to the nearest house, we thought maybe the park ranger to see if we could find the owner. Well, to make a long story short, at that house there was a retired couple and the lady was so happy to see the little dog. They said they have at least 3 options for a good home - grandkids, or daughters. So we left the dog with them. She said "Happy Easter, and God Bless You both". Then I realized it was Good Friday and suggested that be the name for her.

Neither Mark or I know how this happened. If I wouldn't have seen the owl and yelled for Mark to stop, the little dog would have been burned or mangled by the moving parts of the engine. The owl was looking directly at us as we were driving by. And then when it flew, it flew down the road just enough so we moved very slowly down the road to notice the puppy. After we got the dog out, the owl flew totally away.

It was a very strange, magical, and inspiring experience that now as I ponder it has more important lessons, tidbits of magic. Still processing, but there is something really wonderful happening. Go out in nature dear for She is trying to help us appreciate the beauty of life. This is just one experience.

1 comment:

  1. A simply inspiring experience Andy. Thanks for sharing.