*photo credit, Ms. Caty Gordon

Beavers construct their refuges overnight. Their dens are islands with hidden underwater entrances. They choose a new watery home and set to work and, in the morning, that creek or rill is stayed by their blockades of twigs and bark and moss and mud.

They are adaptable. And, in return, the river adapts with them. They make wetlands. They build ecosystems. They defend and lose and build again, but once they find a dam destroyed, their hearts depart. They know that what is lost may never be replaced. They move to other rills and creeks and change new currents, make new homes.

Is that what I have done here? In this little bungalow, on this side street, in this slice of unfamiliar state, and with this little life?

Even in the February freeze, some foliage survives: the evergreens, the patch of lawn. Winter persists, but still the soil thaws to mud. Time doesn’t stop. Growth doesn’t cease.

And life goes on. We dance once or twice a week. I join a cardio ballerina dance cult and I go to pub quiz every Wednesday with philosophers and nerds and men in funny hats. The dog and I discover new trails through skeletal woods. I go to book groups, spar with poncy men who introduce themselves as Novelists. I make friends here—two. I take time off work to write (and even as I type this, feel like such a towering fraud). We take the Baby to the puppy park and watch her make her inroads too. We buy a mint-green kitchen table off the internet and put our flowers and newspaper stacks upon it. We make friends here—more than two—and meet for dinners, coffees, beers. I drive laps around the Triangle in my mother’s rusted car, and swim laps across the YMCA pool, which is sun-dappled and cloudy with chlorine. We leave mud-crusted boots outside the threshold of our house.

It’s temporary, but I change my driver’s license anyway: my adult face (I overdid the lip gloss) beside the pale blue shape-of-North-Carolina and the holographic biplane.

It feels like home here—not just because we’ve managed to incorporate mum’s furniture and treasures into our aesthetic tastes, or because the dog flops down adorably in every corner, or because I bought new bedding (which really ties the room together)—but because its ours. I swing the car into the gravel drive, Maggie leaps into the front and nearly crushes Barry’s manhood in the process of escaping. The porch light, probably, is on. I probably bring in the mail. B. probably puts out the bins. We lock the door, turn on the gas log fire, don sheepy slippers (a much-loved Christmas present from my dad), and—if we think of it—plug in the twinkle lights above the window, as if to make our mote.

Swum down into our den, we seal the cracks. The rill around us flows, accommodates. Two palsy pairs of cardinals hop through our backyard. A white-throated sparrow whistles out his song. Icy wind slams screen doors into the siding, but it is warm, and dry, in here.

 

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