Walking with Anahareo

Another day, another walk, this time along the Beaver Trail of the World Wildwife (umm sorry, Wildlife) Federation of Bodensee-Thurgau with She Who Must Be Obeyed.

The Trail is a 5 km/3-hour walk, through forest and field, beside river and stream, near the town of Pfyn (pronounced “foon”), close to the city of Weinfelden, and as the trail name suggests, focuses on that wiley creature, who loves the nightlife, seriously needs a diet, loves to play in the dirt and the water, and really gives a dam about where he lives, genus Castor, the beaver.

Consider your beaver, ladies…

Known for building dams, canals and lodges, beavers are the second largest rodent in the world.

There are two species of beaver: the North American beaver (Castor canadensis) and the Eurasian beaver (Castor fiber).

The North American beaver population was once more than 60 million…today less than 10 million…as a result of excessive hunting for fur, medicine and perfume or because the beaver´s tree harvesting and waterway flooding interfere with farmers´lands.

The Eurasian beaver has a population well under 10,000, most resident in Scandanavia.

Only 450 live in Switzerland with 100 of those calling Thurgau Canton home.

Clearly those who researched and wrote the info on the trail´s dozen signs know their beavers, but don´t know a dam thing about making a trail…it criss-crossed and doublebacked on itself…signs disappeared when you needed them most…hot uninspiring gravel paths or muddy half-trails through bog and unposted woods….

Where was Grey Owl when we needed him?

Grey Owl, a Canadian legend, writer and environmentalist, and his wife Anahareo, would have shown us where the daylight-shy critters were hiding and shown us all creatures great and small, given us lessons in both the comfort and the hardship of the wilderness and the value of tolerance.

“The wilderness should no longer be considered as a playground for vandals, or a rich treasure trove to be ruthlessly exploited for the personal gain of the few – to be grabbed off by whoever happens to get there first.

Man should enter the woods, not with any conquistador obsession or mighty hunter complex, neither in a spirit of braggadocio, but rather with the awe, and not a little of the veneration, of one who steps within the portals of some vast and ancient edifice of wondrous architecture.”

(Grey Owl, Tales of an Empty Cabin)

I wonder tonight, in the rain and the darkness, if the beavers of Pfyn are going about their industrious ways as I write these words.

I wonder do they know, or care, that in computability theory that a busy beaver is a machine that attains the maximum busy-ness among all other machines in its class, or that in Canada their image is our national symbol which we proudly seek to emulate.

Consider the beaver…before it is too late.


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