While making my usual three-mile run/walk around the park yesterday, I was startled by a small furry creature that scuttled across my path.
At the time I was in an area of the park where a section of the running trail narrows significantly and crosses over a bridge spanning a small creek. To the right of the bridge is a marshy area, complete with cattails and other, um, marshy plant life (not a botanist, like obviously). To the left of the bridge, the creek cascades down from a small waterfall into a pool-like area before running under the bridge and into the marsh and, in this section, is a rock formation that resembles a natural dam although, I’m pretty sure it was man-made.
Well, I used to be pretty sure, now I’m not quite so positive. And, I digress.
Anyyyywaaay, I was approaching the bridge at a slow jog when the critter scurried across from the marsh to the pool. At first I thought it was a cat but then it occurred to me that cats don’t so much like to swim and this thing was definitely swimming. I slowed down to get a better look at it and, despite having a pretty decent view, was unable to identify its’ species before it disappeared into the rock dam. I did rule out beaver since the animal’s tail was bobbed and not long and flat nor did it have beaver-like teeth; its’ teeth were more, um…ferret-like and, since I’m pretty sure ferrets don’t live in public parks, I ruled that species out pretty quickly, too.
I continued my run/walk and, despite rounding the park three more times, I never saw the animal again. I gave the matter quite a bit of thought, however (there isn’t much else to do when one is running laps around a park, after all) and arrived at the conclusion that the creature was an otter. A sweet, furry otter with a cute furry otter-wife and a den full of adorable otter babies. During the day, they scamper about on the bridge and through the marsh, playing otter games and speaking in English, just like every animal ever animated by Walt Disney.
As you can imagine, that made my enjoyment of my time in nature ever so much more special.
That is, until later that evening when my husband and my son disabused me of the notion of a family of otters living in the park. Instead, they decreed that the creature was probably a muskrat, which, just…ewwww.
Because, muskrats are, I don't know, skeevy, somehow.
So, I decided that, if the creature was a muskrat, it couldn’t possibly be a good muskrat, oh, no. It was obviously a muskrat that had been mutated by toxic run-off from farming pesticides in the water, turning it into a man-killer that prowls the least frequented part of the park just waiting for the opportunity to leap out at an unsuspecting jogger so it can chew off her face and drag her corpse into the rock den to be dined upon by the muskrat’s equally mutated wife and children because, I mean, obviously. What else could a muskrat be doing hanging out in a public park?
And, while I prefer my original Disney-like version of the situation, I do intend to step up the pace when I enter that particular part of the park.
Just to be on the safe side.