Elmer the husky and I crossed the tiny footbridge that crossed Crystal Springs Creek in the park a few blocks from my home. It was approximately 5:15 in the morning and we were out gallivanting on our routine morning walk. Weak rays of light from street lights illuminated the bridge and creek. In the distance, freight trains squeaked along the tracks.

As we regularly do, we stopped on the bridge to check for wildlife lurking in the creek below. I’ve seen otters, nutria and beavers from this bridge, not to mention all manner of ducks.

Something glided our direction. A head came into focus. It was an old beaver and he was gray in muzzle and whiskers. That’s how close we stood to the creek.

Elmer saw the beaver too, and jumped up a bit but didn’t bark.

I saw gradual movement behind the beaver and then heard SLAAAAAP! BOOOOOOOOM!: a deep sound reminiscent a fat kid landing in a swimming pool tucked in the cannonball position.

I’ve seen beavers in the wild many times in my Oregon life, saw them munch a stick and tree, saw them around a lodge and dam, but I had never heard the sound of their flat tail flapping the water (a danger alert to other beavers) that I’d read so often about in articles and books.

The sounds was so loud that I hopped up and exclaimed something exuberant aloud that I no longer recall.

The beaver swam under the bridge. We walked across and took a path that paralleled the creek but brush partially obscured our view of the channel. The beaver disappeared from my sight.

SLAAAAAAAP! BOOOOOOM! The beaver flapped again! Five seconds later, another SLAAAAP! BOOOOOOOM!

I was cheering by now and could see the ripples in the creeks. Elmer was in full alert mode and stared at the creek.

We walked along the path but heard no more slaps and booms.

It occurred to me that I might never hear the sound again, and to think I heard it in the big city. At least Portland does urban nature right.

Elmer and I picked up our pace. I felt wildly energized. Seeing a beaver in the wild can do that to a man. (I’ve got to use a variation of that cornball sentence in a short story.)