the moose come marching one by one

Through the dense jungle of poplar and willow leaves in front of me, I suddenly saw patches of brown fur.

Through the dense jungle of poplar and willow leaves in front of me, I suddenly saw patches of brown fur.

This belonged to a cow moose who was now a lot too close for comfort.

Sneaking up to within four metres of a cow and calf is definitely not recommended and had not been my intention — I had sorely misjudged where they would go.

Hampered by Sam’s slippers, which are four sizes too large for me but were the first footwear at hand when I spotted the two moose right outside our cabin, I gingerly retraced my steps.

Fortunately, the wind was in my favour, not only did it blow my scent away from the moose, it also created background noise in the form of rustling leaves and lapping waves.

Concentrating on the gigantic shoes on my feet while casting backward glances over my shoulder, I was soon at a safe distance from this latest pair of moose that had come visiting.

While August is generally the month of bears, we have instead seen an endless parade of moose filing by the cabin in the last couple of weeks.

Mostly it has been cows with calves, making me feel like a sort of moose godmother expected to bestow benevolent admiration and praise on the little ones. Well, not so little anymore, they are already pony-sized now.

I had been sitting in the cabin and reading when a big dark shape outside the window had caught my eye. Interesting how immense a moose looks when seen from the vantage point of an armchair.

The calf of this cow was a little bull of an unusual dark grey, almost black colour, with his glossy brown legs providing a startling contrast.

He wore a somewhat sullen and bored expression on his face that made me wonder if he was prematurely entering adolescence. No wait, he must be in the terrible twos.

While his mother was complacently feeding on the willow in front of the cabin, keeping a ponderous eye on the picture window, he kept shifting on his legs and looking morosely at the vegetation, the sky and the ground at his feet.

As the pair wandered down our garden path, I quietly slipped out of the cabin and followed them for the joy of just watching them a bit longer.

That was when I almost bumped into the cow who had veered off the path and now stood pulling poplar leaves off young branches. I thought I telepathically intercepted a message from her calf: “Aw, mom, can’t we go now?”

Once there was a more appropriate distance between us, I trailed the moose from tree to tree, still outfitted with Sam’s slippers.

The cow found a cozy spot and lay down, her huge head reaching up into the lower branches of a willow like a more than oversized sock puppet, while her calf remained standing and looking bored.

The sneeze of a moose, I found out, sounds not unlike the snort of a horse.

We passed a comfortable 20 minutes this way, the cow eating and resting, the calf pretending to be cool and me happily watching the two.

After they ambled off into the forest, I went back into the cabin, wondering when more moose traffic was due. Funny how it always goes in cycles.

In the previous days, there had already been a young cow without a calf crunching through the trees in front of the cabin one dawn, and then a cow with twins who hung around the place for a couple of days.

After that, another cow with one calf — this cow suffered from some sort of ear irritation as she kept incessantly twirling her ears and dipping them into the water as she and her calf went for a swim.

Next came a young bull moose, but he was less leisurely inclined than the cows and passed through quickly.

It reminds me of the spring a couple years ago when Sam and I kept seeing moose just as we were about to go to bed. We’d go back outside and watch until the light grew too dim, fall into bed deadly tired only to be kept up again the next night by more moose.

In any case, I’ll keep my pair of gumboots ready now so that I don’t have to keep stealing Sam’s slippers for going moose watching.

Lisa Hasselbring is a writer who lives at the headwaters of the Yukon River south of Whitehorse.

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