My time here will be brief. Arriving before sunset, I will leave with receding light. The known and the unknown, the unrelenting perfection of the Tetons, the randomness of wildlife—it all combines to bring me here, to bring me back.
Stopping, I gaze at a carefully constructed pile of twigs and sticks, their apparent random placement belies meticulous engineering. Backing up a finger of water near the Snake, they create habitat for the builders. Excess water flows through ‘spillways’. I marvel at the effort, their ability to alter the landscape.
Beavers, working within their environment, expanded the Snake’s riparian buffer, benefiting biodiversity. Thoughts of those displaced are lost in a menagerie of vegetation and wildlife. Imprinted ducklings follow their mother, wandering in groups, feeding among reeds edging the pond. Insects flourish, insectivorous birds export their impact. Abrupt ripples contrast with focused herons; both offer evidence of aquatic life.
Evidence of their labor, their persistence, is overwhelming but they are not visible. As a species beavers are incapable of understanding the forces of nature that created their mountains. They are unaware of the forward thinkers, those who stepped forward, provided a framework and protected this land. Here they are free, facing risk, living life. Unfettered, they flourish.