Mine Falls Park in Nashua is a watery place, with the Nashua River and an old mill canal and millpond. It teems with life. I can count on seeing a variety of birds in all seasons. In the summer, eastern painted turtles sun themselves on broken tree branches partially submerged in the canal. Muskrats are common. A far rarer sight: beavers. They’re around, all right – just look at the evidence they leave behind in gnawed trees. Actually seeing one of the critters, though, is unusual. Early one evening this week, I hit the jackpot.
No, this isn’t the Loch Ness monster’s little cousin. It really is a beaver, as best as can be captured with my not-quite-top-shelf cell phone camera. I was lucky: as I scooted along a trail by the mill pond, I heard a sudden splash very close by. I had startled something. I looked over to the pond, saw ripples, and watched. Sure enough, up popped the beaver a few feet away. It swam away at a leisurely pace as I fumbled for my phone and snapped the picture.
I was at the park for the first brisk walk I’ve had in weeks. I walked what I call the full loop, a little less than five miles long, touching the park’s eastern and western ends. I saw the pair of swans that have nested in the cove for several years now, and it looks like they’ve found a new spot for their nest, a little more protected from gawkers like me. A few trees have been downed by spring winds, and for once none fell across a main trail. The peepers – frogs that sound like sleigh bells for just a few weeks each spring – were just tuning up as I passed a pond. Everything added up to a wonderful hour and a quarter. But the star of today’s show: an oversized rodent that refused to pose for me. A treat indeed.