"You know we can't go on a holiday trip this year. But I'll tell you what, let's go bike riding this afternoon. Joshua can ride in the kiddie seat in back."
#72- Busy Beavers
A Character story about diligence.
"Hi, Mom," Julie greeted blandly as she closed the kitchen door.
"Hi, Honey. What're you up to?"
"Nothing. Here it is, only July, and I'm bored. I can't think of anything to do."
"I'll bet I can come up with some ideas. You could work in the garden, or you could play with Joshua for a while, or you could help do a load of clothes, or you could learn something new on the computer, or you could-"
"O.K., O.K., I guess I have things to do. It's just that nothing sounds interesting. I wish Karen would get back. When are we going on a trip?"
"You know we can't go on a holiday trip this year. But I'll tell you what, let's go bike riding this afternoon. Joshua can ride in the kiddie seat in back. In fact, let's pack up a picnic and eat down by the pond. Jason will be at ball practice, and your dad won't be home this noon so there's nothing stopping us from going."
"You mean it? That sounds neat. I'll get out the mustard and mayonnaise and cut the bread."
In no time Julie was buckling Joshua's helmet on and strapping him into the bike seat. Then the three of them headed down the back roads toward the pond. The gentle summer breeze and warm temperatures made it a perfect day for riding. Birds chirped merrily above them and a rabbit darted across their path.
When the three arrived, they found a spot under a willow tree, spread their blanket on the ground, and got out their lunch. After prayer Julie chomped off a large bite and then remarked, "This is such a beautiful pond. I wonder how long it's been here."
"Not a long time," her mother responded. "See the dam on that end down there? It's a beaver dam. That means this was a stream, but a beaver dammed up the low end to provide calm water for his home. When we finish eating, let's look beyond those trees over there and see if we can find his hut."
When they finished, Julie and her mom packed the supplies into the basket while Joshua threw stones into the pond. Then they locked their bikes and hid the basket in the bushes. Rounding the point, they could see clearly a large dome-shaped pile of sticks out in the water.
"That's the beaver's house, Joshua," Julie said, pointing.
"Beaver?" Joshua asked.
"I don't know where the Beaver is. Maybe he's sleeping inside."
Joshua put his finger to his lips. "Shhh. Beaver sleeping," he repeated.
Julie and her mom exchanged smiles. "I don't think we have to worry about waking him, Joshua. It must be pretty soundproof inside there. I don't see a door. I wonder how he gets inside."
"He makes an underwater entrance," Mrs. Jensen assured her daughter. "I think I heard that a beaver can swim under water for 15 minutes without coming up for air. He oils his own fur using oil from a gland on his stomach and a split toenail on his back paws that acts like a comb. This makes him skim through the water at quite a clip."
"Really? Where'd you learn all this stuff about beavers, Mom?"
"I grew up on a farm, remember? My dad took me for walks too and told me all about God's creation."
"I'll bet you always had something to do during the summer living on a farm. I wonder what the beaver does to keep busy once his house is built."
"Oh, they have things to do," Mrs. Jensen assured her. "They must store food for the winter, and keep the dam in repair, and feed any young kit they might have."
"Kit? Is that the name of a baby beaver?" Julie asked.
"That's right. Look over there. You can see why many people don't like beavers on their property."
"Wow! Why did they cut down all these trees and not use them for something?"
"They did eat the small branches, and perhaps they took some of the branches to the dam. In fact, if we kept walking, we would probably find several more dams upstream. These help keep the water pressure in the pond just right, especially during times of flood. Sometimes these dams can cause damage by backing up the water. But it's hard to get rid of them. When my father was at camp years ago, he said he broke down a beaver's dam every day for a week, and every morning it was repaired. That old beaver just wouldn't quit."
"Boy, I'll say. That must be where we got the saying, 'busy as a beaver.'"
"I'm sure it is. There's another reason why the beavers have to keep busy. If they don't, they will die. Those long teeth in front continue to grow all his life. When he chews on things, it keeps his teeth worn down to size. If he got lazy and didn't ware down his teeth, they would grow too long to eat, and the beaver would starve to death."
"Oooo," Julie winced. "What an awful thing to be hungry and have your teeth in the way so you couldn't get any food in your mouth. That would be like a prison."
"I agree. It reminds me of something I read this morning from Ecclesiastes. Solomon said there, 'Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might.' A few verses later he says that if we are idle, the house will drop through. I guess that means there are always things that need to be done to maintain a home, whether we like to do them or not."
"I thought you were going to mention that verse Daddy hung on the wall, 'If any would not work, neither should he eat.' He said it means that if someone won't help make the meal, they shouldn't be allowed to eat the meal."
"You're right. The Bible has some stern warnings about being lazy."
The three strolled quietly back toward their bikes and lunch basket. When they arrived, Julie turned to her mom. "I was just thinking about that list you made, you know, of things I could do. When we get home, do you think it will be too late for me to do a load of clothes?"