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Shannon Bardwell: By the light of the moon


Shannon Bardwell



The moon was full and barely tipped the canopy of the trees, its parchment-colored sphere overlaid by bare twigs. As we moved across the Prairie I strained to look back. There could be no prettier sight if I had paid millions to hike majestic mountains or cruise the South Seas, and all of this beauty right here, right where I live in the Prairie. It's true; happiness is found in your own backyard and the grass is not greener anywhere else. 


The mission was again the beaver dam. No longer working with a shovel, Sam had taken the box blade on the tractor and removed the mud and branches from the beaver dam. Water streamed through the ditches and eventually arrived in torrents alongside Taylor-Thurston Road. The water ran with such force sometimes a fish or two slipped over the dam and through the woods. 


At my last writing of our plight with the beaver I received a lovely email regarding the importance of beaver in the ecology of our environment, along with instructions of how to create a spillway of sorts with PVC piping. The system would keep the lake at an acceptable level and spare the beaver and its habitat. I enjoyed Dr. Perryman's letter. She represents an organization called "Worth a Dam." I like that she made reference to Narnia. 


I shared the information with Sam, but he said, "This is a man-made Prairie lake; it doesn't work the same." 


The piping system would keep the water level, but it would not keep the beaver from building burrows into the man-made dam that holds the water in the lake, even now we've found three "runs" or pathways to beaver hollows.  


You have to wonder if the beaver are retaliating for destroying their structure since they have been under the dock and cabin and are burrowing away at the pilings. I have visions of the cabin becoming a houseboat. 


We rode along quietly, as quietly at you can ride in a "Gator." Occasionally we stopped, sipped hot coffee or refilled cups from the thermos we'd brought along. We sat quietly in the moonlight, watching.  


Geese flew over; soon they will begin their migration. A few ducks landed on the other side of the lake. I took a flashlight and scanned the lake's surface where all was still except for whirls of concentric circles. There was no sign of beaver and no sighting of deer or coyotes howling at the moon.  


We moved ahead and Sam pointed out a swarm of mosquitos overhead. He swatted at some; it served as a reminder that spring is only days away. We passed gigantic ant mounds and the dreaded thistle, "... cursed is the ground ... it will produce thorns and thistles for you ... " And that it does. 


Over my shoulder I looked back, and there he was, watching -- the man in the moon.  


Shannon Rule Bardwell is a Southern writer living quietly in the Prairie. Her email is [email protected]


Shannon Rule Bardwell is a Southern writer living quietly in the Prairie.


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