The Beaver Lodichai
by Kim Goldberg
The beaver Lodichai was the most celebrated chap in the marsh. His glossy pelt rippled in the sun as he clambered ashore to chip away at young alder trunks.
Everyone wanted to be seen as his friend. To that end, much name-dropping ensued. Creatures were forever saying “Last week, Lodichai told me…” and “When I was having lunch with Lodichai yesterday…”
Lodichai’s lodge parties were legendary. He had the best music, served the most exquisite willow-leaf roll-ups, and was—to put it politely—quite popular with the ladies of all species.
One morning, as the marsh awoke with its chorus of peeps and trills, it quickly became apparent that Lodichai’s lodge had collapsed. Coots and grebes and all available mink rushed over to help. They tried to pull Lodichai from the tangle of interlocking branches but could not extricate him from above or beneath. He was, as fate would have it, trapped in a cage of his own making.
The mink were able to clear enough twigs and debris from the top to give him a breathing outlet. Marsh occupants began bringing him things to eat, although none could match Lodichai’s culinary sophistication.
Various creatures were sitting it out on the shore or in branches overhead. They watched the rescue mission impassively, twitching no whisker or ear tuft to rise to Lodichai’s aid. And then the rumours began.
From the fringes of the marsh, the most outlandish claims started to circulate. If gossip is to be believed, it seems Lodichai had the unfortunate habit of urinating where he shouldn’t.
A spotted towhee found urine-drenched birdseed on the trail. The chickadees told him Lodichai had come along and given the seed a squirt or two. A fetching red-legged frog said she lost an entire egg mass last season due to Lodichai’s shenanigans (which was doubly unfortunate, considering species’ threatened status).
An anise swallowtail butterfly claimed all the lomatium along the trail had been soured with Lodichai’s urine and could no longer suffice as a larval food plant.
Lodichai was even accused of taking aim at a downy woodpecker’s nest cavity five feet off the ground—and acquiring the target, so to speak.
The allegations mounted but were largely ignored because of Lodichai’s contribution to the marsh: his parties, his beauty, his generosity. Oh yes, and his mind. Let’s not forget that! Where would this marsh be without Lodichai?
And why on earth would Lodichai do these preposterous things? The answer, countered the aggrieved, was because he could.
A non-profit organization was formed to find a way to extract Lodichai from his predicament and rebuild his lodge. It was called SOUL—Save Our Unerring Lodichai. The most prominent creatures in the marsh added their names to the membership roster, which was posted in the main parking lot.
The creatures on the sidelines, growing in number daily, were horrified to find their friends, mentors, and even heroes on the membership list. Especially after what the pumpkin-seed sunfish had disclosed about Lodichai. (When a beaver’s tail smacks the water, it is not something you want to be beneath.)
A counter-organization was formed called SOULLESS—Stop Offering Up Lies, Listen to Every Song and Silence.
SOULLESS demanded that SOUL disband or at least take down the wretched membership list on display for all to see. This prompted more marsh creatures to add their names to SOUL, regardless of what they thought of Lodichai’s alleged conduct, just to prove they couldn’t be bossed or suppressed.
By this point, major media were covering the story with headlines about “Marsh Civil War” and “The Collapse of Marsh Culture” and “L’affaire Lodichai”. There was discussion of building a wall down the centre of the marsh. That might have proceeded had it not been for the fact that the only one who actually knew how to build such a wall was Lodichai himself.
However, even without a physical wall, the marsh has now become two solitudes. The SOUL supporters have staked out the eastern half of the water and shoreline, while SOULLESS advocates have claimed the west.
Lodichai, meanwhile, is still snared in his watery cage and is said to have lost weight due to the blandness of his diet.