A Beginning—Shanna L
The tornado spun up from nothing and spared nobody while it turned the town of Riverbend Bluff to nowhere. Lightning crackled and the shrieking winds battered the terrain, but as twilight fell, the earth was still.
A beaver crawled out from the underbrush where he had taken shelter from the storm. The silence surrounded him and was soothing after the roar of the tornado. He could hear the river rushing, but the sounds of the town – traffic, the hum of people talking and rushing about, birds tweeting – were gone. He sniffed the air. It smelled clean, free of exhaust and of the stench of the human population. In return, the beaver could detect the smells of the woods around him, the smell of tree sap and wood shavings and the crisp water that flowed through the river.
The beaver looked at the destruction around him. Buildings reduced to piles of rubble as far as he could see. Houses had disappeared, trees were uprooted, and streets were in ruins. Debris littered the ground and then, a light began to shine for the beaver. The beaver stared, wide-eyed and stunned, for all around him was his own private treasure trove. The beaver was ecstatic, for within the town wreckage was twigs, sticks, branches, and wood. There was more wood than the beaver had ever seen and he couldn’t believe his luck. He could use this wood to build his dam.
The beaver dragged his squat body out from his hiding spot and scurried over to where some branches were laying on the ground, his short stocky legs carrying him. He grabbed a branch in-between his buck teeth and ran back to the river. He dropped it on the bank and rushed to get more. Some other beavers gathered to watch the beaver hurry back and forth.
“What are you doing?” asked the other beavers.
“Building,” said the beaver. “I’m going to build my dam here.”
“Here?” said the other beavers. They laughed at the beaver as he stood there with the wood in his mouth.
“You can’t build your dam here.” The eldest beaver spoke up. “The current is too fast and when it rains the river overflows. I’ve seen many beavers build dams here, but in the end they are always washed away.”
The beaver looked around. In his eyes, the area was ideal. “What are you talking about?” he said. “This is the perfect place to build. The humans have all left so there is no one to pollute the river or trample on the vegetation. There are plenty of water-lilies to eat and plus, there is all this fabulous wood that will just go to waste. I’m going to build here.” The beaver turned his back and ran to gather more wood.
The others beavers sat and watched as the beaver amassed a large pile of wood on the riverbank and slowly started to construct his home.
A girl beaver swam up to him, her webbed feet cutting through the water. “Can I help?” she asked.
The beaver looked at her. “You don’t think I’m crazy?”
“No,” said the girl beaver. “In fact, I think you’re very determined.”
The beaver smiled at her. “Thank you.”
The girl beaver carried some of the sticks and branches over to the beaver to help him form the dam. “I haven’t seen you before,” she said. “What brought you to this area of the river?”
“Well,” said the beaver, “I was living upstream, with a woodchuck, but we did nothing but argue. The woodchuck just wanted to sling wood all day and had no interest in building. He had no ambition, so I left. I was passing through this area when the tornado hit and when it was safe to come out I saw all the wood and knew this would be the place to build my dam.”
The girl beaver watched as the beaver talked and laid the branches in the river to assemble the dam. She knew that this area of the river was a dangerous place to build a dam, but there was something about the beaver that made her think his dam would prevail.
The two beavers worked through the night, moving the wood and packing weeds and mud onto the sides of the dam. In the morning, when the sun rose and shone down on the river, all the other beavers could see the massive dam rising up from the water. It sat lengthwise, reaching across the river, creating a pond area for the beaver house, the rushing current having no effect.
And when the Red Cross workers arrived to begin the clean up and repair of Riverbend Bluff, all would marvel that in the midst of tragedy, a beaver dam had sprung up overnight.