Jordan River Cantor
Tonight I kayaked on the Jordan hoping to see a beaver, for lately I have noticed bits of beaver sign, like newly-gnawed box elder bark, and willow stems sheered with a single toothy slice. Porter’s Landing offers a rubber launching mat, a picnic table pavilion, and a merciful portable toilet: I put in there. I paddled hard upstream, tense and anxious for wanting to arrive, to see a beaver. But I regrouped and reminded: when I want to see wildlife, I must release my need to see wildlife. One cannot ever coerce an encounter: one must allow to happen whatever wishes to happen. Soon I settled into a smooth rhythmic stride.
Garish orange-black orioles chittered at me from the treetops. Goldfinch on an eye-level branch watched me paddle by. Great blue heron glided slowly in, dangling long gangly landing gear. Cormorant, oil-black, rounded a bend low over the river then veered sharply away. Kingfisher kept a hundred feet upstream, scolding with each irritated launch. Canada Goose parents with six fuzzy new goslings paddled single file, an adult fore and aft. Wild iris sprouted in clumps near the bank boasting delicate butter-cream flowers. The river was calm and beautiful and slack and dark as the sun began to sink.
One hour upstream would see me back just before dark. And at that one-hour mark a willow switch swam slowly against the current and stopped at a grass-hidden bank. I glided slowly by, and there sat a beaver, upright on her haunches in the shallows munching. A beaver! Alive and real and close and wondrous – two famous enormous buck teeth, long tawny whiskers, tiny black-bead eyes, little round ears, rust-red fingers holding the branch just like I would hold a branch. She chewed quickly and loudly and contentedly, completely unaware of my ogling. But when she heard me she straightened and turned slowly and dove, nonchalant, and as she dove she raised her tail lazily and slapped the water with a cross crack.
My encounter with the beaver felt beautiful and personal and honorific and close. I will take Hannah tomorrow. We will ride our bicycles on the riverside trail, and I will show her where I saw the beaver. We will sit on the trail above the bank and munch our sandwiches and whisper to each other until she comes.
I hope to see you soon. Love always,