At the side of a great river, surrounded on both sides by the tallest of trees, there lived a giant beaver.
He arrived in the spring time and at first the animals of the forest, particularly the birds, took little notice of his presence. Then, one day, he began gnawing at the trunk of one of the tallest trees.
The birds were distressed at this behaviour as they had not long since began nesting and his chewing put their new homes at risk. Worse still, they feared that when one of these trees finally came crashing down the beaver would rush to their nests and swallow the eggs that were in them.
This caused many of the birds to switch their nests many times, much to their annoyance.
Yet after chewing almost halfway through, the beaver would stop and move on to another tree.
Baffled by this behaviour the birds were at first confused, then amused at the persistency of his folly.
“You shall not have our eggs giant beaver!” They would scream down at him as he continued to whittle away.
The beaver paid no notice. Almost as soon as the birds had moved away from the tree he would move on to the next one and the next.
Still, the birds were confused. Surely, he had given up on their eggs by now? And why didn’t he at least concentrate his efforts and chop down the trees to build his dam? With winter on its way the beaver would surely starve or be eaten by wolves if he had no dam to protect him.
As time went on the birds grew bored of studying the beaver’s folly and as it became clear that the beaver couldn’t decide which trees to chop down, eventually many of them returned to building their nests in the half-chewed trees of the forest.
Still, as the weather grew darker and colder the birds almost felt sorry for the giant beaver who was beginning to look hungrier by the day. Yet, still the beaver chewed away; leaving a trail of unfinished destruction everywhere he went.
Then, one night, there was an almighty storm and the wind and rain lashed down upon the land.
In the morning, there was a sea of carnage: trees that had crashed to the ground were scattered everywhere.
And there, sat casually in the middle of it all, munching on a giant pile of the broken eggs that he had collected, sat the beaver. As he licked his paws clean he pondered where to start with the bounty of all the wood now available with which to build his dam.
Many of the birds, now devastated by their losses, still couldn’t forget their curiosity.
“Mighty beaver, you have beaten us and we must accept our defeat. But tell us: how could you possibly know when the storm would come?”
The beaver stopped picking the remaining egg shell out of his teeth with a stick and thought for a moment.
“The trick”, he replied, “was not knowing when the storm would come, but to be ready when it came.”