Despite being only thirty miles from Boston, my town of Carlisle is small – only 5,000 human residents. One reason for the low housing density is that much of the area is not suitable for building. It’s too wet. Bordering Carlisle is a river that floods into woodlands. It’s a national wildlife refuge and an important flyway. Throughout Carlisle there are intermittent streams and vernal pools, essential habitat for amphibians, including several rare species. Although humans are restricted in building here, there are some who can construct their homes wherever they like – beavers are master builders, and ducks and herons have a way with sticks.

All this winter the wetlands have been frozen over and blanketed in snow. (In the springtime there are shallow ponds on both sides of this road.)



The wetlands remain frozen over, but the last few days saw a dramatic upswing in temperature. It’s above freezing! The spring thaw and mud season have begun. Driving down the aptly named Brook Street, right at the low spot that crosses wetlands, I kept my truck to the center of the road, away from the water-filled shoulders. It’s a good thing that I was driving carefully, because there was a creature up ahead.

I stopped and got out to see what it was. (Which explains the not so great photos taken with my phone’s camera.)



A muskrat! On a springtime mission from someplace to somewhere.

muskrat in road


The water was running fast down hill. She was going against the current. Did she think that she was heading upstream in order to find the calm water of a pond? On one side of her was the road, on the other a snow bank impossible to climb up and over. Her instinct told her to move up the stream until she found safety.

I could see her webbed feet and the whiskers on her nose. I didn’t want to get too close as she was already worried. (For better photos and more about this animal, go to this website.)

muskrat up close


Two cars stopped behind mine. This is the sort of traffic jam that we have in Carlisle. Then we all slowly drove past the muskrat. About a hundred feet further up the road was a break in the snowbank and a way for her to get back into the real wetlands. I’m sure that she got home.


  1. I hate to say this but….she is adorable……Thanks for checking on her and sharing!

  2. Your phone takes very good photos, it looks like a small beaver. We have to stop for Pheasants and Badgers, the Pheasants run from side to side on the road instead of going through the hedge, no sense !! It certainly is beautiful where you live no wonder you chose it :)

  3. She is so cute!!! I love muskrats! The pictures are great :D I love muskrats and it was nice to read this blog about one. They don’t get much recognition.

  4. Seasons. Ever changing and beauty and joy that comes with each one. Enjoyed this post thoroughly.

  5. We often see muskrats at many of the locks along the Rideau Canal during the warmer months here. I think they’re cute too, and interesting to watch. I wonder if they are as big an environmental nuisance as beavers can be? I’ll have to do some more reading up on them.

  6. The snow ‘s certainly melting the mounds look lower every time I look. The girls will be able to see over the top soon and Phoebe’s will wonder where her mountains have gone !! Spring has arrived for a while at least :)

  7. Yay! for warmer weather. I can actually see grass and dirt here at my house! Woo hoo! Love that you stopped to take a picture. So cute! Not so cute is the water deep enough for her to actually swim in. Here’s hoping your snow melt doesn’t cause major flooding issues for you!

  8. Looking for “Muskrat Love”. I see into the goat pen. First time in weeks and weeks. How lovely that soon everyone can greet one another again.

  9. No muskrats here to witness but the frogs are out in full chorus every evening now. They are always a sure sign spring is upon us in case we had not noticed all the visual signs. Hang in there…..Green growth will out-score white and brown ground coverings before you know it. :)