Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Stupid things done under the midnight sun

I was stupid, but also lucky (not an uncommon combination for me).
Because my old dog doesn’t go pee on his own anymore (he just stands around in front of the door, wondering why he’s out there), I need to accompany him – and that’s what I did yesterday morning when it was still dark. My headlamp carved out a feeble tunnel of light over the path that leads to our meadow, and while the oldie tagged along behind me, our younger dog bounded ahead with what seemed like inordinate excitement. But since he lives his entire life in a perpetual state of inordinate excitement, I paid no attention – stupid.
We had barely walked away from the cabin and past our porch when a loud roar exploded from the underbrush to my right. Bear, was my first thought, and I immediately turned heel, put the old dog on a leash and dragged him with me (he’s become prone to just stopping in his tracks and musing “now what was that?”, going through thirteen and a half years of memories at his leisure while danger and/or my frustration escalates), and called back the younger dog. Within a minute we were back inside where I replayed the roar and wondered why that had been the only sound – strange for a bear. No branches cracking, no huffing. Nothing.
I grabbed the battery-powered floodlight and shone it at the bushes, but the light just reflected maddeningly on all the branches without revealing what was hidden behind them. Should I go out again and check? But if I find a sudden tragic end out there, the dogs will face a slow, even more tragic one inside the cabin. Caution prevailed, dawn broke and I could finally make out an animal silhouette in between the willows just off the path: a moose. No, two silhouettes: a cow (cow on this blog is always shorthand for female moose) and a calf.
Of course, a moose! Stupid, stupid. It’s been my worry to bump into one on these piddle expeditions in the darkness, and now I actually did – and in hindsight recognized that very scary roar as that of a moose warning off an attacker. I’ve heard it once when a bear tried to kill a small calf, and another time when a cow went through my laundry line, found herself straddled by a pair of jeans and successfully intimidated the rest of the laundry with her roar into staying put.
I’m sure the cow yesterday morning was miffed that after years of always being allowed the right of way here I suddenly had the temerity to walk right up to her – she and her calf must have been just metres off the path. Luckily she didn’t feel the need to drive home her feelings with her hooves.

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