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Possumhaw: Prairie, wild and untamed


Shannon Bardwell



I often wonder how different life would be in the city. I wonder if city dwellers contend with coyotes, fox, armadillos, owls, raccoons and beaver; possibly a snake or two. 


Last fall Sam made a 4'x4' floating dock from old wooden ramp. He cut up Styrofoam insulation and fastened it to the underside for flotation. With the john boat we carried the dock into the lake and anchored it there. I covered the top with some leftover hay making a nice, safe place to for  


Leah, the duck, to settle. You know the Prairie can be a scary place for a duck. 


Leah rested on the dock a time or two so I was satisfied she had a place to nestle. Last Tuesday I walked to the lake and saw a large, dark, ominous figure sitting on the floating dock silhouetted by the setting sun. 


I squinted 'til the tears ran down my face trying to determine what the figure was. Then the head drew up and I recognized a beaver! The beaver was sitting on top of the 4x4 dock. This is the same beaver, or one like it, that has dammed the lake repeatedly, gnawed the trees, especially the cypress, and burrowed out the dirt under the cabin. Drat him! 


I ran back to the house for binoculars and the .22. Then I remembered the .22 had a scope and I wouldn't need the binoculars. The whole time I was running toward the lake with the gun I was trying to calculate the range of the .22. 


'Bout half way between the house and the dock I stopped and aimed the gun at the beaver just to make sure. Yep, it was a beaver sunning himself. I slipped closer. Finally I got in position for a shot but the cabin was immediately to my right and the john boat was four feet to the left of the cabin. Shooting from that angle would be like shooting down an alley. There was Leah and her two coot friends to think about. What if Leah decided to swim out from the cabin as soon as the bullet left the chamber? I couldn't do it. 


I move closer and watched as the beaver slid off into the water. I walked on to the cabin dock and watched Leah and her coot friends swim to the middle of the lake. I sat down in a chair with the .22 across my knees and waited. That little bugger had to surface sooner or later. 


I waited and watched until darkness descended. No beaver. The ducks swam back to the cabin and I put out the daily chop and watched Leah eat. Still no beaver. 


Sam came home and heard the beaver story. He shook his head, "To add insult to injury, he's sunning on the dock I built! I wish you had gotten him." 


The next morning, I did.


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


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