Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Beaver Sticks

Lottery Girl's post today reminded me of something I used to do with my kids when they were little. I was always looking for ways to occupy them at the cottage seeing as there were no computers, no internet, TV, or electronic entertainment of any kind, and the only games were card or board games which we saved for evenings or rainy afternoons. We spent the majority of time beside, in or on the lake. In the evenings, I read books aloud. We went through the entire Harry Potter series that way. As each was published, we'd head into town at midnight to buy it, and drive back in the wee hours through fog, dodging deer and porcupines on the country road. Then the kids, and sometimes my husband, would gather round and listen, hugging their knees at the exciting bits. They used to pour me a Bailey's on ice, but after they noticed I got sleepy too soon, they switched it to plain ice water. Tactical move, they said.

Anyway, because our cottage faces west, we usually get the wind blowing straight at us, and the water moves in that direction too, buffeting the dock and bringing with it all kinds of flotsam and jetsam. There has been wayward baseball caps, bait boxes, buoys, foam noodles and once, a floating water bicycle. It looked like THIS.

Now this was some cool flotsam. I figured the owner would show up for it eventually, but without any kind of identification, I could only tie it to the dock and wait. In the meantime, we had a houseful of kids who took turns trying it out and they had a blast with it. I was really sorry to see it go the next day when the owner finally did show up to claim it but he did say we could borrow it again if we wanted.

Mostly though, what washed up on our shore on a fairly regular basis were "beaver sticks" i.e., bits of stripped logs in all sizes with distinctively chewed ends from the beavers paddling around all over the lake.

So I cooked up a plan. I told the kids I needed the beaver sticks for a Special Project, and I would pay them 25 cents per stick but they had to fetch them all along our rocky shore, and bring them back to the dock. I set up my chair on the dock, along with a fat novel and a cold drink while the kids grabbed windsurfer boards, air mattresses, canoes, basically anything buoyant and set out to accumulate as many beaver sticks as they could manage before their arms gave out.

I figure it cost me a few bucks in exchange for some very peaceful afternoons.

I still have a big mound of beaver sticks under my porch. I have yet to begin my Special Project.

Speaking of amphibious bicycles, how about this one? Ya gotta love engineers!


Laura Bradbury said...

Dear Pam,

I love your creative "projects" that kept your three occupied. I need to come up with some of those, quick. How is that parenting book coming along BTW?

Bises xo

A Novel Woman said...

Hello dahling! Off to send you an email to update you.

Lottery Girl said...

Dear NW,

Beaver sticks--What a clever plan! You must be so excited that it is near cottage-time once again. I am, as I will get to see more of your lovely summer time photos!

A Novel Woman said...

I can hardly wait. Actually, I can. There is a month of blackflies standing between me and my cottage. Once they're gone, I'm all over the cottage like butter on toast.

BB said...

Right. I am tuned in and listening to this advice. I am tucking it away for future use. P'raps they could have made a raft out of the sticks/logs? "All over it like butter on toast". Heh.