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The beaver, otters and muskrats scamper for cover.

Coyote: (looking at the deer) It's much easier to kill deer in the snow.

The deer still run over the hill for safety.

Fox: Snow! (Looking up) Hey hey hey, it is going to snow soon. Look! Some birds are already heading south for the winter!

Coyote: A hard rain. We won't be able to smell a thing. Let's hide. Maybe a nice morsel will slip and slide.

Fox: Right into our warm warm warm and dry dry mouth!

The predators find dens on the rocky slope. The fisher hides in the porcupine's den, but the porcupine stays up her tree. The forestage, in front of the dam, becomes the inside of the large beaver lodge. Beaver one sits in the middle of the lodge floor surrounded by little beavers. The smallest children in the play who might have difficulty with speaking roles can fill out the ranks of the beavers.

Beaver one: Come on, come on in, don't be shy. This is the worse rain I've ever seen and I'm almost two years old. Come on in, please come in. All my brothers and sisters and some little cousins are here. They won't hurt you.

Slowly and tentatively the muskrats and otters come into the lodge, with their heads down.

Beaver two: Hi, I haven't been in the pond because I have to take care of these guys. Come on in. We have plenty of room. We dry off on the lower floor and then sleep up here when we are dry. And all around us are ways to escape. I helped my father chew out the roots so we could make these tunnels into the bank.

Otter one: Cool.

Beaver one: That's not cool. It's a necessity. We have to have many ways to escape from the lodge.

Muskrat one: Why this is just like our house!

Beaver one: Didn't your father and mother tell you that muskrats often move into abandoned beaver lodges.

Otter two: Once we were on a trip down the big river with our father and we stayed a night in a beaver lodge.

Otter one: The beavers were in it.

Beaver one: I hope you behaved.

Otter one: The beavers were nice. My popi told me later that sometimes if we get real hungry, we otters eat baby beavers.

Muskrat two: Oh! Otters are impossible. Here we have a nice dry lodge, thanks to the beavers, and you talk about eating them!

Otter one: But I'm not hungry! I just ate all those frogs!

Baby beaver chorus: We aren't afraid! We have the biggest, strongest, most powerful, most awesome jaws! Grrrrrrr!

The beavers pick up little sticks and start chewing on them fiercely. All the other animals laugh.

Otters: These kids are crazy!

The two otters playfully pull sticks from the beavers.

Muskrat one: Where are you parents?

Beaver two: We have a lot of lodges and tunnels in the banks to sleep in. Now they are farther up stream, checking all our dams.

The ruckus from the otters gets out of hand.

Beaver one: You will have to behave! Can't you sit down?

Otters: We like to play.

Beaver two: Would you like to play a beaver game?

Otters: OK!

Beaver one: This is called the Game of our Valley. This game is about how we beavers turn a little stream into a world, a universe of life, because you don't have to go beyond it. Now Otter you are the beginning, or really the end. South Bay where two little creeks drain all the water from three valleys formed by the rocks of the island. You have two legs, each a stream. Now muskrats. Where your feet meet are the first dams holding back the water into a pond. Your body is the pond where many animals live and your head is the lodge where we beavers, otters and muskrats live. The bigger your body, the bigger the pond, the stronger we all are because the beavers can cut more trees and build bigger dams and lodges. And more sun comes into the valley and grows the little plants and roots we like to eat

Otter one: And more more frogs and fish for otters!

Otter two: And the ducks and geese nest in the ponds.

Muskrat two: And soon when they fly south they'll stop here to rest.

Beaver two: Your legs are canals that beavers build in the stream. Deep enough so we all can swim under them in the winter when the ice divides the warmer water below from the cold, cold air above. Where your feet meet is another dam, and beyond another pond. Your heads are more lodges.

Beaver one: Now there is also the south valley that goes up three dams and ponds, and then a big big pond. See how safe we are. All our bodies and arms are the water of life. We have gallons and gallons of water above us. We can go a month or two without rain and still have safe homes and frogs and fish for otters and roots and plants for muskrats and beavers. That's the game of our valley, don't you think it's fun? I never want to leave it.

Muskrat one: But can it rain so much and bust all the dams?

Beaver two: We've had rain three days now and everything is all right.

Muskrat two: You look worried though.

Beaver one: I am.

Coyote: A pretty game, but in real life I've seen beaver ponds go dry. In the winter the dumb otters get under the ice and dig a hole through the dam. The ice melts and all the water goes out. Then if some trapper comes along and kills all the beaver. Poof! Mud city!

Fisher: Beavers are lazy. It's been raining three days and they haven't done a thing.

Fox: The fat old beavers just float around, nose around, slap some mud and watch it wash away. Slap slap slap, oh I hate mud.

Porcupine: Shut up! I can tolerate beavers. And by the way, I see the old beavers now. They are beginning to work. They are building a new dam further down towards South Bay.

Coyote: Good. The deer used to be able to run through this valley. Now there are fewer places they can run.

Deer two: When the ponds freeze we can run over them. And that's when you really want to eat us, right?

Coyote: Don't forget the deep snow, buster.

Deer three: Maybe it'll be so deep it'll be over your head!

While the other animals talk, beaver one goes forestage and looks down stream. She rushes back into the lodge.

Beaver one: Porcupine is right! My parents are building a new dam for a new pond so we can harvest new trees and maybe build a new lodge for the winter. Oh. it's wonderful, but very hard work. And we must work fast because we have to get our supply of food in for the winter. They must need our help. Come with me.

Beaver two: Even you little guys. This is a big job!

The animals scamper up onto and line up along the dam.

Beaver one: Mom can I help?

Beaver two: Mom can we all help?

Beaver one: We can!

Beaver two: Ask your mothers if you can go help.

Separately and then in unison and by two and threes, the animals cry out

"Mom, can we go?" or just "Mom can we?" or just "Mom?." As the pond animals reach a first crescendo. The predators join the chorus.

Coyote: Ahhhooooooooh mom can I eat them all?

Fox: Mommy Mommy Mommy

Fisher: Mom? I wonder where Mom is?

The Deer begin singing out "Mom... Mom... Mom" in questioning tones. As all the animals reach another crescendo, the porcupine screams at the top of her lungs and then explains:

Porcupine: I'm a two year old porcupine about to go into heat. And then I'll be a mother! Oh, mother, what am I going to do?

The Mom Chorus continues and now each of the pond animals gets a stick and takes it into the audience to give to their real mother or a suitable substitute. With all that commotion in the audience, the larger animals help the stage hands turn the pond and valley from a late summer into an autumn scene, with touches of frost.

Fisher: This is the easiest time of year to catch a porcupine.

Fox: Really the ones I see seem a little jumpy, not like a fat tender morsel at all.

Fisher: That's the point. For just twelve short hours in the whole long year, the female porcupine is in heat and who knows how many love crazed male porcupines, can you imagine how desperate they are, will get a whiff of her and head for that tree. I'll pluck one of those nettles. It's feast time!

Porcupine: It happens so fast you'll never catch a thing!

Fisher: Oh, it makes my stomach growl just thinking of it.

Coyote: Doesn't the chill in the air give you an appetite?

Fox: It's nice to have a few good meals before winter.

Coyote: Last winter was too warm. The deer never slowed down, never got bogged down in the snow.

Fisher: But during a warm winter whatever you catch is plump, right?

Coyote: I didn't catch one deer. I ate people garbage. I ate veggies! and those lousy mice that you guys think are so tasty. I even had to eat a fox.

Fox: You didn't?

Coyote: We used to all eat rabbits until the year the big river completely froze up and the place filled up with foxes.

Fisher: and one cunning fisher family. Oh an island filled with fat porcupines who never in their wildest dreams knew how ferocious a fisher can be.

Porcupine: In my short life, not yet two years long, I've given two coyotes a face full of quills, and lashed a fox or two!

Coyote: Those weren't coyotes. Those were those stupid dogs the people own, those fat clumsy dogs who would drown in their own spit if their jaws weren't so heavy that they keep dropping open so all the drool can come out.

While the predators have a good laugh, the deer pick up the conversation.

Deer three: Why do they get so talkative this time of year?

Deer one: Just keep eating. Don't pay any attention to them. That's our best hope.

Deer three: And then the people will come after us with guns.

Deer two: Not if we know where to go. Don't go beyond the swamps. Especially don't go up into those fields, that's where they killed our father last year. He was the biggest and strongest buck on the island and they killed him.

Deer three: He had such beautiful antlers. Your antlers are nice.

Deer two: Yeah, right. They're so little I can't wait to bang them into a tree and get them off. Maybe next year I'll have big antlers.

Deer one: Let's run, they're getting too close. Oh, I hate the fall. Our beautiful coats get dingy, almost grey. If we don't eat, we won't last the winter. Everybody wants to kill us. Why do they want to eat us?

Deer two: We're meat.

Deer one: If meat is us, meat must taste terrible.

Deer two: You wish.

Fox: Frankly I'm too tired to hunt. I'll survive the winter. The leaves fall, the grasses get matted down. You can see so far and smell better. I hate to admit it but what I like to do in the fall is watch the beavers work. Stick by stick is their trick. Stick by stick, branch by branch they float like a boat after they bring it down the slope, and sink and sinky sinky sink it in front of their lodge before their pond becomes a rink without a stink.

While the predators and deer talk in the last scene, the beavers return and the two older beavers pantomime teaching the younger beavers how to cut branches and bring them down to the pond to be sunk in front of the lodge. Save for the sighs of exasperation from the two older beavers as the younger ones go the wrong way or do the wrong thing, and the murmurs of the kits who would rather be playing, the smaller animals make no noise.

Beaver one: I'd like to congratulate us all on a job very well done. We have food for the winter now. We can just swim out from our lodge, go under the ice and get some tasty sticks and take them back to the lodge without going out in the cold icy air. Boy, the water will feel warm this winter!

Beaver two: There's just one more job.

Little beavers: Oh no, boooo.

Beaver one: This is the fun job.

Beaver two: We put mud on the lodge! So it can freeze up hard and protect us like armor.

The two beavers dive down into the pond, bring up mud and slap it on the lodge.

Little beavers variously: This is fun. Splat. I like this too.

Otter one: Oh man look. They're making us a mud slide and I'm too fat to climb up it!

Otter two: I know what we could do. Remember last year?

Otter one: Yeah, we can swim around the ponds and bump all the geese in the butt!

Otter two: Yahoo! Let's go. Duck-a-butting!

Otter one: Yahoo! Let's goose the geese!

Muskrat one (to the beavers): I've noticed that you haven't put food in front nor mud on top the lodge two ponds up. Are you going to work on that next.

Beaver one: Oh no. After the big flood we decided to build a new lodge and we won't be using that one. It's very nice though. You muskrats can use it.

Muskrat two: Can we? That's a very good pond for us, lots of grass.

Otter one: Nope. Sorry. I gave that lodge to somebody else. A relative of mine I saw in the river. A mink.

Muskrat one: A mink!

Otter one: Yeah, I told him we had too many muskrats.

Muskrat two: You beast!

Fisher: A mink in the valley! Oh, they're almost as a fierce a hunter as me.

The fisher walks down to hear the otter and muskrat talk, meanwhile the porcupine scoots down the tree and goes over the hill.

Beaver one: Don't worry, the lodge has lots of tunnels for escape.

Beaver two: There's another lodge there too.

Beaver one: And across the pond there is a tunnel that goes into the bank.

Fisher: A mink can cover all that ground. And have you ever seen a muskrat try to run away from a mink on land? No contest.

Muskrat two: Why did you send someone to kill us! Why don't you otters like us?

Otter two: You're no fun.

Otter one: Beavers work all the time but oh boy when those trees come crashing down. Wahoo!

Muskrat one: We have fun. We explore, but quietly.

Suddenly there is a piercing porcupine scream offstage, and then another and another. The fisher runs to the porcupine tree and looks up.

Fisher: She got away!

The other animals laugh.

Deer one: Hurray!

Fisher: Don't laugh at me! I'll eat her and her baby in the Spring.

Fox: Bravely said, partner but say hey how did she get away today?

The animals laugh again and the usually buoyant fisher sinks down and hides.

Deer two: It's snowing.

Beaver one: Oh, now we have work to do, a lot of work to do, inside our lodge. Goodbye, see you in the spring.

Otter one: It's snowing yahoo yahoo! We can slide on the ice soon!

Otter two: But all those geese will leave.

Otter one: Are you goosie gooses going to leave?

All the animals still on stage form a chevron and exit honking. The otters follow them with their yahoos and laughter.