My husband and I headed off to Otter Bog on a crisp fall Saturday that followed a series of rainy days. We went in search of a chicken-of-the-woods, our favorite edible shelf mushroom that we often find after rains in autumn. The woods were full of mushrooms, including a giant puffball (whose time had clearly passed, alas), but despite bushwhacking for 6 hours we didn’t find a chicken-of-the-woods. We did find the largest bear scat we’d ever seen, and magnificent British Soldiers growing on a dead log, but these were poor substitutes for the delicacy we sought.
When we got back to the pond at Otter Bog it was close to 4 p.m. The beavers who live on the pond were likely to come out soon, so we sat down on one of their old lodges (across the pond from their new lodge) and waited. My husband asked how long I planned to wait, and I said that I thought they’d come out within the hour. “An hour!” he exclaimed, not planning to stay more than 15 minutes. Fifteen minutes passed with no sign of the beavers, but we saw a pair of Wood Ducks off in the distance, and then one male Wood Duck, in all his resplendent colors, flew in and landed about 30 feet in front of us. And so we stayed.
When the hour was up, I was getting cold and my butt was sore from sitting on the beaver lodge sticks, and so I got up to go. My husband was packing up his camera to follow. I waited in the car for about five minutes and then realized that the beavers must have finally come out, because he hadn’t come back yet. So I quietly walked back to the pond, and sure enough was greeted by the beavers. Turns out my husband had a leg cramp as he stood up and during the 20 seconds that the cramp waylaid him, the beavers came out.
The take home message from the day? When you’re on a treasure hunt, you’ll always find treasures you weren’t searching for if you’re open to what appears in each moment. Or, as John Lennon said, “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.”
Zoe Weil, Author of Most Good, Least Harm
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