Beaver watching (not). On going out on my own

Today was the day of our planned excursion to the beavers. But my two wilderness school buddies couldn’t make it and so I was on my own. When I arrived at the parking lot it felt odd to be there without them. I set off to find the beaver tracks. Last time I had discovered fresh tracks quite close to the parking lot but this time I had to go a while before I saw any.  They were very close to the trail. There were fresh wood chips and I could see where the beaver had come out of the water. I decided to stay here and looked around.

I found a good place to sit but I was in full view from the trail. At first this didn’t bother me at all since all afternoon I had encountered only one lone walker. So I settled in and waited. The sun was setting behind the horizon and the light was incredibly peaceful. Grey and silver egrets flew in and out, their wings swinging slowly and very elegantly. Several rows of geese were high up in the sky. The only disturbance was a man and his dog coming closer. I nodded and he went by. Nothing happened. But I was in a complete turmoil. It was getting dark, I was being here on my own, alone, quite far from the parking lot. I had even forgotten to bring my flashlight and had to rely on the stars to find the way home. Would the man come back the same way?

I wished my buddies were here with me. But I was here, alone and I wasn’t going to let fear ruin this evening. I pulled out my knife and started to carve a stick until it was really pointy. Slowly the fear subsided. The sun had long disappeared, the evening star rose.

I could feel the cold creeping in. I realized that I had make a mistake. The beavers wouldn’t be coming out of their castle tonight. It was far too cold, the water was frozen in a lot of places. I waited a bit longer until  I too was feeling the cold. I left unwillingly, with the feeling that it was too early. Finding the way home wasn’t a problem, the snow shining in the dark. From time to time I stopped, wanting to make sure that there was no one behind me. Of course, there wasn’t. It was only me and the stars. When I arrived at the parking lot I was disappointed that my little adventure was already over.

I will come back when the nights are warmer and the water isn’t frozen any more. And I will continue to go outside alone and after dark even though it might be frightening from time to time.

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