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Published on Jul 18, 2011
Before the fires here in New Mexico caused the state parks to shut down, my husband and I spent our evenings hiking through a wildlife area, One of our favorite places within this area is a small marshy pond inhabited by several families of ducks and beavers. The beavers have always been shy and we had never been able to see them up close. We only caught glimpses of them as they hid on the far side of the pond amidst the reeds and cattails, away from the hiking trail and people.
One evening at sunset we quietly approached the pond hoping to see the beavers up close, but they were no where in sight. We waited a bit and were about to leave when I told my husband that I wanted to go to the water's edge and invite them to come out. I stood on the shore, and although I couldn't see them, I could feel them watching me. I called out in a soft voice that I have used over the years with other wildlife. Unknown to me, my husband was a few feet behind me filming me while I set up my camera and talked with the beavers. Once the beavers appeared I turned on my camera as they came out of hiding, and filmed this spontaneous video.
Slowly they emerged from the back of the pond and the reeds, and one by one they swam toward me. As you will see in the video, the first beaver came right up to the shore, within two feet of me. He floated in the water, just listening to me talk with him. I was moved to tears. I could feel both his curiosity and love. Then all the other beavers, about five in all, came up to me one at a time and swam back and forth in front of me. They each stopped and just looked at me, smelled the air for my scent, and turned their ears as they listened to my soft voice.
Although this experience was profoundly moving and similar to those I had in the Daintree Rainforest of Australia, I decided that I probably won't do it again for reasons I mention in my book, "Naked in Eden: My Adventure and Awakening in the Australian Rainforest" (see excerpt below). It is an astounding gift to be able to "call in" wildlife and speak with them, but it is also a gift that I must treated with great awareness and care.
I wouldn't tame my wild friends. Not when I desperately sought freedom through my own wildness. I had to be extremely aware of how I behaved, and careful not to teach the wildlife to trust my kind. Sometimes we humans can be irresponsible and out of control. It's heartbreaking when the need to connect and communicate with other species sometimes is a very real one, but not always a safe prospect for the last remaining wildlife. The next person might not behave as kindly. (Excerpt: Naked in Eden)
For weeks after this experience I could feel the beavers and my connection to them. I have learned that wildlife is as intelligent as I am. It is just whether I am observant and intelligent enough to understand it. I have also learned that after only one interaction, animals often remember me, sometimes even months later.
PS: I am deeply grateful for all the loving comments and support on my last video "Living with Fire". Your support was very heartfelt and much needed. It was a trying time. Unless one has lived through such extreme smoke, it is hard to even imagine. The fires became much worse before they were brought under control. But we are finally having consistently cleaner air. The new danger is flash flooding as there is no growth on the mountains to hold the water if it rains