August 21, 2015

Busy as a Beaver .... by Jocelyn Faire

In this world you will have troubles ...

Almost every negative has a positive side. Can this be true of writer's block?

Biking along the Legacy Trail, a pathway that follows the Trans-Canada highway from Canmore to Banff, my high achieving sister leads the way. She is always busy, always productive. Busy as a beaver, with enough letters behind her name to spare a few for me. Many times I feel un-productive beside her.

I'd been mulling over the writer's block issue knowing I needed to pre-post before the two of us join a trip to the Yukon. I called out to say, “I have to stop.” To our right a well built beaver dam approximately ten feet high, had effectively stopped the creek, vibrant green grass lay below and the still pond above reflected the surrounding trees. “That is a picture of writer's block” I said, hoping to catch it with my camera. Cyclists stopped to see what we were snapping, hoping for wild-life? “It's a beaver's dam.” I said.

“Oh, just a dam?” I noticed a man on foot, with a telephoto lens attached to his camera. Turns out he has been watching and photographing this dam for years, in summer he comes daily to view the progress. He pointed out the recent construction to us, as well as the beaver's hidden lodge. “A beaver family lives in this pond. Just below that new white log is their entrance.” He points, “If you watch closely, you can see the ripples of their movement. There, there goes one now.” I wanted to see it, but all I saw were the water wrinkles. The culprits are invisible, but the evidence is damming.(couldn't resist the pun!)

So what does the Dam of a Beaver have to do with a writer's block?

Writer's Block—what is it?

A usually temporary psychological inability to begin or continue work on a piece of writing

Temporary or not, the words like water, are not flowing.

When I got home, still reflecting on the powerful damage of the little rodent, I was compelled to look a little further. Google to the rescue.

The beaver's teeth never stop growing. Their dental care plan is simple—keep gnawing at trees; perhaps the writer's take is to keep on writing.

The more exciting find resulted from a three year research project examining ecosystems in the Colorado River: a busy beaver's dam work is felt downstream in a major way.

According to the study:

Beavers are well known for creating large pond-like areas upstream from their dams, but scientists have found that the construction projects also spread water downstream with the efficiency of a massive once-every-200-years flood ... beaver dams force water out of the natural stream channel and spread it across and down the valley for hundreds of yards.

"We found that upstream ponds were not the main hydrologic effect of the [beaver] dams in the Colorado River valley," said study co-author Cherie Westbrook. "Instead, the beaver dams greatly enhance hydrologic processes during the peak-flow and low-flow periods, suggesting that beavers can create and maintain environments suitable for the formation and persistence of wetlands."
(Beaver Dams:

I re-read the report. When God does something in nature there is always more to it, than meets the ordinary eye, usually my eye. My initial response is not always the correct assumption, I need to go deeper. The power of the beaver dam is to block off the water, but this report suggests that there can be a positive impact on the environment beyond the blockage in the way that the water seeps through to nurture roots. Perhaps the season of writer's block can be used to water the soul in different ways. The slow seepage of water does more for the roots than a quickly passing stream. God wants to nurture my roots in a dry spell.

"In this world you will have troubles, but take heart I have overcome the world.” (Jesus) John 16:33


Jocelyn writes (briefly in summer) at her blog: 
She is the author of a grief book, Who is Talking out Of My Head/Grief as an Out of Body Experience


  1. Anonymous3:26 am GMT-7

    Interesting how God nurtures our souls during a 'dry' spell! Nature is such a teacher, if we pay attention. Thank you for bringing to my attention another of God's perfect nature designs to nourish us and keep our lands flowing.

  2. Jocelyn, in light of the beaver dam analogy, this sentence caught my attention. "When God does something in nature there is always more to it, than meets the ordinary eye, usually my eye." We are so quick to pray away what we think is interfering in our plan. Perhaps the prayer needs to be, "What's behind this Lord? Show me?" I need to hold on to that concept. Thank you ! (and the pun made me smile. :) )

    1. This particular phrase also caught my eye, Bobbi

  3. Jocelyn, Thanks for this metaphor. What caught my eye was, "Perhaps the season of writer's block can be used to water the soul in different ways." Yes, God waters our spirits in ways that will one day bring life and nourishment to ourselves and others.

  4. This was such an interesting post and a very well thought out metaphor

  5. Thanks for this insightful blog, Jocelyn. I will try to remember this image of the beaver's dam, when I am experiencing problems with my writing. Perhaps that is the Good Lord watering my soul and establishing good roots in my soul. Your metaphor is so apt.

  6. Thanks for making me actually feel 'blessed' to be suffering from writer's block (doubt I will always continue to feel blessed but I will also try to keep your last lines in mind...'The slow seepage of water does more for the roots than a quickly passing stream. God wants to nurture my roots in a dry spell.' Great article

  7. Well put, Jocelyn. I enjoyed the beautiful word picture and how it relates to the writing life. Thanks.


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