Moos-taken for someone who cares

I've been chased, harassed and mesmerized by many a moose but rarely when I was holding a camera. This image is of a North Fork of Shosone River moose near the East Gate of Yellowstone. (scan from Velvia slide film)
(cover photo: I’ve been chased, harassed and mesmerized by many a moose but rarely when I was holding a camera. This moose ran at me while fly fishing near the East Gate of Yellowstone and was able to get off one frame before sprinting–Velvia slide film).

Some of the best photos I never took, had a moose involved.

The one this morning–which again I wasn’t able to photograph due to pressing circumstances brought on by the subject at hand–occurred  pre-coffee while I was still in slippers and long-johns.

I’m just about to make my morning cup, put some real pants on and shovel the walk when I notice the hulking shadows outside my kitchen moving silently. No motorized anything; nor a silent flock of crows in my periphery; so I decide it has to be the alley beast.

Yes, Mr. ‘Winkle; or ‘Bo for short.

With no time to dally, I rush out as is and unsheathe the plastic shovel from the snow bank near my front door.

Yellowston Cow and Calf
Yellowston Cow and Calf

“Eat my baby tree limbs will ye,” I utter in hushed hysteria.

The moose pays no attention and thankfully none of my neighbors notice either (that I know of).

Yet I wield my weapon before the thick-headed thing. I picture future chalk lines and police tape boundaries all along my front yard. I hope I remember who I am should I suffer concussion in the next few moments. Win or lose, this won’t be a lengthy battle.

Especially since my slippers in the snow are like rollerblades on a beach boardwalk. I’m moonwalking, skating backwards towards the creature until I finally find balance, just 1 and a half moose kicks away …

But my foe continues to ignore me. I don’t speak moose. I’m told I do a mean pig. My horses used to come with just a whistle. Now, all I can muster enough for him to hear yet still fall under neighbor radar is:

“Quit chewing my aspens you dumb bastard,”

I realize I’m still asleep. I’m talking to myself in the cold, in my underwear, whilst my frozen oasis is pillaged.

But I have my mighty wiffle shovel, and there is still 3–feet worth of tree left to save. So I dig into the snow and hurl shovel after shovelfull of snow at Bo. With all my pre-caffinated might, direct scores to the side of his dumb face land point blank. Loads of deadly, icy, powdery, fluffy, (harmless now that I think of it), new fallen snow flakes– hit him directly and nothing.

Finally aware of me, I see him casually choose to lumber off across the street, possibly to digest his morning meal before heading down to the park where he can catch some mid-day sun. I recall the novel,  Of Mice and Men, as I swear I hear him say while departing,

Duh, I like trees.”

Moose have chased me; stomped at my dogs; nearly run into my truck; and now, have decided to eat my children. I’d almost forgotten how fun it was to live where I do.

A young brown bear races me along the highway.
A young brown bear races me along the highway.

I’ve had my share of encounters with most of the real notorious critters of Yellowstone country. Nothing gets the adrenaline flowing more than knowing it’s a bear’s ass you smell just ahead of you on the trail.

Somehow along the way, I’ve must  have decided such marvels are passé. How silly of me.

While on Vancouver Island this past November and December, I marveled at the newness of everything around me. Moisture, salt air, and fresh sea food within a Frisbee toss of wherever you happened to be at the moment. Magical for certain.

I’ve experienced 20 snowy Decembers in Wyoming, and the wonders of this state continue to captivate me.

Yes, I am still looking for warmer winds in my face. But it’s because of the winters here in Wyoming that I feel the call of distant, more temperate lands. I need this balance. My icy Yin here, balanced with a warm yearning to Yang somewhere else half the year.

In another month my travels will see me on a few islands in the Philippines, as well as a jaunt over to Singapore. For one month I’ll be living among old friends; friends of friends; and new friends I’ll no doubt make, all in a foreign-to-me land.  I’m certain to be amazed by all the newness. It’ll be another seafood mecca no doubt; where I won’t be able to fall down without hitting a pile of fresh sushi with my face.

But reveling in the beauty and uniqueness of my own familiar home and it’s surroundings is something I won’t take for granted again.

Besides, when’s the last time a farmer in the Philippines had his shovel full of fresh snow?1092002-164