I know why the caged beaver gnaws

I know why the caged beaver gnaws

Chapa returns home. Photo courtesy Friends of the Kansas Wildlife Exhibit

The one thing that people know about beavers is that we like to build dams. But no one wants to be defined by his job. And beavers don't want to just build dams. We want to build dreams.

Last week, as you may know, I initiated my own re-introduction program by releasing myself from the Kansas Wildlife Exhibit in Central Riverside Park.

Why, you may be asking yourself, would I walk away from three hots and a cot? Why leave the bottomless supply of carrots, sweet potatoes and apples? Oh, the apples. The fruit of the tree of knowledge. How was I not cast out long ago?

Spring is in the air. And, as Mark Twain wrote, "It's spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you've got it, you want — oh, you don't quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!"

Somewhere, a lady friend awaits. Find her, and I can build my dreams.

First off, though, you can just save all your snickering "beaver/wood" jokes. Nobody thinks you're cute.

Second, yes, I was orphaned three years ago and hand-raised by humans. No, I've never known the touch of a sweet, velvety, broad tail, but I've known musk in my heart.

The first thing I did after I got out last Tuesday morning was try to contact someone who had managed to stay hidden for years: Louie the Joyland clown.

At first, he wasn't very helpful. "I've got a wooden face; you're a beaver," he said.

"It's not like I've got termites," I told him. But when I explained that I was only 3 and looking for love, he perked right up. Things went sour, though, after I said in the course of conversation that 3 in beaver years is actually like 18.

Still, he did tell me about a wooden roller coaster that is going to need some dismantling soon. And if I was going to be on the outside, I was going to need a job.

I found a little place to stay in Riverside — a nice, concrete burrow like the one at home — but it was just as lonely. I spent hours on Tinder and not only couldn't find another beaver, but I also couldn't find any small pieces of wood like I was initially expecting. Rookie mistake.

But there were a lot of opportunities for me to make rookie mistakes. Too many. And the truth is that there are some big, scary beavers out there stinking the place up already.

I know, you're thinking, "Beavers work together to build dams. They're all chummy! I thought you wanted to mingle?"

Have you ever hired a couple of contractors to work on your house at the same time? An electrician and a plumber, say? Ever seen them steal each others' screwdrivers and block each other's vans like it's some kind of game? Yeah.

I'm a lover, not a fighter. And the beavers in the area right now are just big dudes.

So I made it a little vacation, ate some of the local bark, rubbed my anal scent glands on a tree or two and then went home. That's fine.

My dreams will be there next year.