Moose wander our neighborhood more often during these long, warming days. Every time we let the dog out to the backyard we have to first do a visual moose check because sometimes …..
It’s always a quirky surprise to look up and see these seeming gentle giants meander along sidewalks and across backyards, munching our shrubs and trees.
One evening this week our next door neighbor texted, Company in driveway, look out your window. Sure enough.
I stepped out on the front porch and snapped a few pictures and then stood my distance, chatting with our across the street neighbors – father and son – playing catch in the road. They’ve been doing that a lot lately, spring baseball season canceled and snow too deep to play in the yard. While we talked, Moose Mama and Baby walked between us and on down the sidewalk. They stopped again a couple houses away to munch on an apple tree, unperturbed by snowballs breaking against their huge bodies, the neighbor’s futile attempt to move them along. We all watched together and laughed. These big, beautiful, wild beasts. We all know they are not gentle. They walk among us and we give them space.
Today Ginger and I went for a walk-on in the early morning quiet of HunkerDown. As I stepped around frozen moose poop at various points along the way, I remembered a walk last spring on the very same path. That afternoon Ginger and I went out for a walk and on our way home we cut across the lagoon where we stopped midway and took a picture in the gorgeous light.
It was the end of February when the temperature turns up and the light comes back. The ice oval was full of skaters and the schlick schlick smack of hockey games carried loud across the cool air. Ginger and I walked past all the skaters and followed the snow packed trail to the edge of the ice where we stepped up the bank and onto a quiet path that would lead us home. Just then, a lady rode past us on her bike with her dog, off leash beside her. As she passed us and rode on, the lady glanced back over her shoulder and said, do you see that moose on the right? Oh! I hadn’t.
MOOSE AHEAD. is trail etiquette here, and I was grateful for the heads up, as always. The trail was empty. No people in sight. I took another step, thinking I’d get the moose in view and choose my path wisely from there. But in no time I discovered that this story was already in play.
Not far from we stood, a massive wild animal was in an angry, stomping huff. I half-turned, backing away from him, evaluating my options, making rapid decisions, and keeping track of the raging beast. He first charged straight ahead from where he stood, going off the trail and into trees where I couldn’t see him. For a second, I thought we were clear and so I turned and started to jog toward home, committing myself to a straightaway with no shelter options – tall fences on one side and the wide open icy lagoon on the other.
Partway down this path, I glanced back to see that he had come back onto our trail, still careening wildly back and forth in a huffing mad stamp. We were not the target, but we were definitely stuck in the way. I turned and ran an unforgettable, super scary sprint.
Before safely reaching the end of the straightaway, I heard a crashing behind me. I looked back to see the moose had gone charging out across the lagoon, hooves pounding the thick ice to carry his massive angry body far away from us, toward the hillside across the water. Moose rarely go out across that ice. In 6 years I’d never seen one on it before. My legs weak, my heart pounding, my entire body shaking, I slowed to a wobbly walk toward home. As I came to the end of the straightaway, a lady came toward me, pointing out across the lagoon and saying, Do you see that moose out there!?! I can’t believe the ice holds him! I’ve never seen that.
Yeah. I see that moose. I can’t believe it either.
Needless to say, I wasn’t a fan of moose the rest of that spring season. Every sighting made me shudder. Thanks to the rhythm of seasons, they don’t hang around our neighborhood much in the summer so I got a break, and by fall I guess I’d metabolized the experience enough to return mostly to wonder and awe. And of course, always – a healthy respect.
This morning, as I walked around frozen moose poop in this Age of COVID-19, I found myself thinking about my lived experiences. I can be going about the regular daily stuff of my life when from out of nowhere can really come a wild, unpredictable threat. Sometimes I get a narrow escape. Sometimes I don’t.