I never saw a natural stream until I was 10. I thought all birds were small and brown. And the closest I came to experiencing wildlife was catching tadpoles in the local drainage ditch. I grew up in a flat suburb of Los Angeles, where the streets are a grid and you can't get too lost because you'll run into the ocean on one side and the mountains on the other.
When I moved to the Seattle area, I was amazed that people in the northwest could actually live next to gurgling salmon streams, surrounded by tall, fragrant cedar trees populated by many-colored birds. I've lived here nearly twenty years and I still stop in awe to gaze out the window at the lush green landscape.
We saw a new beaver dam Saturday on the stream by the path where we walk the little dogs. The creek is two miles from our house, in a business park. We noticed the covered 18-inch storm drain pipe coveres were 2/3 submerged. Ducks glided through their new pond, upending occasionally to graze the bottom of the stream. We saw the gnawed tree trunks and the teepee-shaped stumps that proved the dam was a construction, not just natural tree decay.
"Do you know what the leading cause of death in beavers is?" Young Geezer asked. I admitted ignorance. "Falling trees," he grinned. Seeing the size of those stumps, I could believe it.
"What do you think will happen when we have a heavy rain?" I asked, "Do you think they'll open those storm drains and that will be enough to prevent flooding? It was Young Geezer's turn to admit ignorance. We finished our walk and returned home--just as snow began to fall.
Snow turned to rain, more rain, and then more rain. In fact, it's still falling--and today is Monday. I don't know what happened to the beavers and the ducks, but I do know the creek rose so much that the business park was evacuated today. Young Geezer's office is in that business park.
"Why do you think it's flooding so badly this year, when it hasn't before?" I asked him.
"Well, it's obvious," he said. "It's the beavers." I think he was only half-joking.
Somehow, I don't think the beavers did this.
(Picture, "City of Woodinville," by Rick Powell from King5.com weatherpix)