The Advantages of Sliding a Rock


We have had a very mild winter so far in central Wisconsin, but that is not usually the norm. Winter can be a trying time as many of us consider the season to be merely a brutal portal that must be endured if one is to enjoy the coming of spring. It is even more difficult for our animal friends, yet they are the ones that seem to be enjoying it.


Twice a day I walk along the Wisconsin River on my way to someplace else- coffee, work or just out for a stroll- and the other day I stopped on a bridge to watch two river otters on the partially frozen waterway. They were not hunting or looking for shelter or even being very serious about anything. In fact they were taking turns playing with a large rock I assumed someone had dropped off the bridge to check the thickness of the ice. (Apparently, this is a standard technique in my area because I see a lot of big rocks on the ice near bridges.)


One otter would place his front feet on the softball size rock and push off with his hind feet, scooting across the ice for several yards, then he bounce off to dive into the open water just a few feet  distance from where he was playing. His friend otter would then run up to the rock and slide it back to where the rock was in the same manner the first otter did, returning it to the original starting position. The friend otter then raced to the water and dove in, while the first otter came out and began to slide the rock across the ice again. This went on for the ten or fifteen minutes as they took turns in their play.


They were not belaboring the point that life was no longer as easy as it once was or that a time of hardship had descended upon them, though surely it had in the form of snow, cold temperatures and biting winds.


Otter and Friend Otter had determined nothing would be gained by wishing to be somewhere else. It served no purpose to lament to the sky that things should be different. This was where they were for now so they might as well find some piece of joy when they could. When the easy life was not in their present situation, they created their own moment of bliss.


Animals give us all manner of clues how to better live our lives. Will I go out and slide a rock across the ice? Probably not, (although it is not an altogether bad idea).


But I will find joy in this day. I will make time to play because it is the day that was given to me and I do not wish to waste even a minute of it by the wonting of something else.


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