Beaver / Otter Balance

How busy are you?

Photo: Tom Koerner. Source: USFWS

I used to know about a beaver pond where we could go watch them. We had to be very quiet getting there, but if we were, we could see them working around their pond. If we moved suddenly or a twig snapped under foot, we’d hear a sudden slap on the water and they’d disappear, hiding in their lodge. But if we were careful we could sit by the pond for hours and watch them go about their business.

The thing about beavers is they’re always busy. They’d shuttle around on the water, building up their lodge or shoring up their dam or cutting trees and saplings and hauling them into the water. The “busy beaver” stereotype really is accurate. Even when we didn’t see them, we could see evidence of their work all around us.

By contrast, the otters on our property don’t ever seem to do any work. They sleep and slide and play around all day. After the snow falls in the winter, we sometimes find the tracks of an otter slide on a slope nearby, where they would repeatedly slide down and scamper up, again and again. It makes me wonder, don’t they have anything better to do?

Photo: Tom Koerner. Source: USFWS

But all that play serves a purpose. Sliding is a way for them to move quickly in deep snow, slipping along the top when a predator might be impeded by the deep drifts. Wrestling or juggling improves their agility and coordination – something they need for their predatory purposes. Believe me, they are efficient predators. When I see otter sign near a pond in the winter, I know that any trout that pond used to hold will be cleared out in the spring. So I take back that part about not working.

It’s important to appreciate both beavers and otters in our lives – the preparation and diligence and execution of beavers, and the playfulness and whimsy and fun of otters. Sometimes you need to get the saplings under water so they’ll be available when the water freezes, sometimes you need to practice juggling and improve your coordination or just catch a few z’s.

Photo: Leszek Leszczynski. Source: Flikr. CC-BY-2.0

Businesses, investors, and all people need to have sustainable practices that allow them to continue their work and not exhaust their resources. Sometimes that means more work, sometimes that means more play. In all cases, we need to take lessons from both beavers and otters. Which one are you more likely to take after?

Douglas R. Tengdin, CFA

Charter Trust Company

“The Best Trust Company in New England”

By |2018-11-28T06:10:09-04:00November 28th, 2018|Global Market Update|Comments Off on Beaver / Otter Balance

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