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FEBRUARY 1, 2010   

Back to nature

Looking through tangle of reed towards downtown ClevelandNot far from downtown Cleveland just north of the West Shoreway there's a hole in the chain link fence that takes you into a bit of nature surrounded by highway and industry.

The skyline is visible above a tangle of brush and reeds. Walk a short distance north and you're on the bank of a spur of the Cuyahoga River across from a marina.

Walk east and soon you run into a new chainlink fence around a construction site where Great Lakes Towing is building a shipyard a little farther down the river. As you walk you'll notice signs of human habitation: a plastic milk crate, an old mattress, a bike leaning against a tree.

Tree stump with scalloped edgesYou'll also see quite a few small trees cut and laying on the ground. The stumps give a hint of what's going on. Some are cut straight across, as a person clearing the path with a saw would do it. Others show scalloped marks that are more likely the calling card of a beaver.

It's pretty clear that the beavers aren't damming up the Cuyahoga and building their home amidst the boats and docks. So where could they be?

Small pond amidst reedsHmm...the patch of tall reeds...that grow near... water!

I walked into the reeds, following the ground sloping downward until I saw a small pond. I circled the edge until I found a narrow path that led to a stream. OK, there's where you might expect to find the beavers who'd gnawed the tree stumps.

Drawing of beaver lodgeContinuing to circle the water I saw signed of more chewed-off trees near the edge and then a big pile of brush covered with snow. A pile of sticks and small trees, to be exact. A big mound of it that might be a beaver lodge like this drawing from Wikipedia.

So there it is. Wild animals in their natural habitat, about a half mile from my house, sharing their little piece of paradise with the guys who sit on the plastic milk crates. Gotta love it.Beaver lodge covered with snow


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