By Lauren Crandall

December 23, 2019


On a winter’s sunny day, I can see the Minnesota River shimmering a quarter mile away—past the trail at the base of our hill, over the pond, beyond the meadow, between the walnut trees.

Come spring, there is imbalance—too much snow that’s too quick to melt. The river becomes my backyard. The walnut grove sinks first, followed by the meadow. A day or two later, the river overcomes the pond banks. We are hemmed in.

The flood confuses the animals who live here. Some feel lucky. Our new backyard beaver delights us. He swims where the pond banks used to be, grabbing long, floating branches in his teeth. Business as usual. The wood ducks and geese are thrilled. Quacking and honking, they swim luxuriously, leaving a “v” of water wake where the meadow was.

But a bedraggled raccoon in my neighbor’s front yard staggers like a drunkard. We worry, and set out dog food and a blanket. She empties the bowl and is gone. We hope for the best.

Deer wander in other front yards, unable to rest in their tall meadow grasses. Our dog barks at them, but a yearling continues chewing on my neighbor’s hydrangea. Desperation has made her bold.

The barred owl addresses us every night. He hoots for hours, explaining this inconvenience is temporary—that with patience the trail and the pond and the meadow and the walnut trees will return to us.

The balance is disrupted. But it can’t disappear.


Lauren Crandall, a recent Minnesota transplant, writes from Cincinnati, Ohio. 

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