Tagmoose

Moose Summer

This summer has been too brief. It always is, but this one has been even more fleeting than most, full of things ending before I have a chance to understand that they’ve begun. It’s telling that the dream I woke from this morning had me standing by the ocean, the waves coming in against the rocks, and saying, “it can’t be over, I haven’t even done everything yet.”

But the slant of light in the afternoon makes it plain that time is turning, whether I’m ready or not. The hummingbirds are busy working the bee balm in the backyard. They can often be seen sitting on a limb that fell from a tree next to the house and created a little bower for them to rest on between sips. Should I saw up the limb? Yes, but not yet. One hummingbird came and hovered at the window screen today, peering in while my family made plans for the day. We do like to watch one another.

This has been the summer of the moose. First, a cow and calf crossing the road as we came around a corner. Moose are so large and so unexpected that my brain is slow to categorize them. First I’m thinking shadow, and then large stump, and then, oh, of course, moose, followed by BABY. I’d never seen a calf before, and she was lovely and almost the exact shade of chestnut as the foal at our friend’s barn, and almost the same level of fuzziness.

A few weeks later, my son came down from working in the neighbor’s yard. “There’s a bull moose up there. Come and see.”

I went, certain that it would be gone by the time we arrived. No, he was still there, head buried in the apple tree he was efficiently stripping. Because the foliage was so lush, and he was so still, it was hard to see him clearly, even though we were only about twenty feet away. Long legs, and an occasional eye peering out. Then he moved, and again, that feeling of not being able to make sense of the sheer size of him. At one point he tipped his head toward us, displaying the massive bowl of his antlers. Eventually, he left, ambling off unconcernedly to some other bit of moose business.

Since then, I’ve seen the cow and calf once more. They trotted out onto a trail ahead of my husband and I as we were walking on evening. They never looked back, just continued down the path for a bit before cutting back into the woods. My husband saw them again on up the hill last week. I’m sure it’s the same pair, making the rounds through their territory.

It’s good to have them in the neighborhood.

So, here we are. Mid-August. All the things I meant to do remain, for the most part, undone. I have not made it to see the Van Gogh exhibit (yet). I have not worked on painting all the things that need painting in my house. Or begun the carpentry that needs to happen in order to make better spaces in our little house. Or read the stack of books in the corner. All those tasks, none completed.

But, I have seen moose. I have paddled in a kayak with my daughter in ocean water. I have hiked along rocks for hours, and watched a school of porpoises swim by. I’ve been still long enough to keep company with a resting hummingbird. I’ve eaten blueberries, and tiny gnarled apples taken off ancient abandoned trees. I’ve watched a young hawk eat a small bird in the maple tree my children swing on.

A little paint to be splashed, a few boards to be hammered–those jobs can wait. One cannot ignore the magic passing by in favor of the eternal mundane, after all.

P.S. For those wondering about the book, it continues along its bookish way. It’s not quite time to share the cover with you, though I can tell you I love it. I have seen the proofs, and the design is beautiful. For any GoodReaders among you, it can be added to your shelf here.

Playing games in the trees

A story.

My car started having problems. Not the shiny new used one, the one we haven’t even taken possession of yet. No, this is the one that has been the good one, up until this week, the one with only 218,000 miles on it. (A side note: I hate cars. I hate being dependent upon them. A future full of bikes and trails, even full of carriages, would be fine with me, but that is not the life I live currently.)

Anyway, the good car suddenly started having electrical blips, which turned into full car blips, which led to us all sitting on the side of the road this afternoon. This has become a disconcertingly familiar state for us lately. I was happy to be able to reach a pull off, happy to be in a cell phone friendly spot, happy to have my dad available to pick us up. All in all, not a bad breakdown.

One little glitch? My dad could only take two passengers, so I hung out in the woods for a while by myself. Again, not a bad thing to do. Crunchy fall leaves, shifting clouds, an old oak crumbling into soil. Fresh air, which I sorely need.

After a bit, I walked back toward the road and sat on a rock. I was close enough to watch for my ride, far enough not to feel like I was sitting on the side of the highway. A guy stopped and wandered off down the trail I was sitting by. I waved, he waved, the sound of him trailed off through the leaves.

The traffic kept going by. A truck, and then something through the trees, big like a truck, only in the wrong place. I was thinking truck? Then someone else in the woods? Running maybe, through the trees? Then, as my brain caught up with my eyes and ears, oh yeah, big, BIG moose. Running. Toward me.

It’s not really rutting season at this point, but that’s what I think about when I see a large moose with monster antlers running toward me. Rutting season, for those unfamiliar, is the time of year when bull moose become irritable. Really irritable. All they want are receptive female moose, and everything else gives them the equivalent of road rage.

I was off my rock in about the time it took for big BIG moose to sink in. With extraordinary grace, I leaped behind a sufficiently large tree, checking out the deadfall next to it to think about how much it might slow down a grumpy moose. I looked out around the corner as the moose came to a sliding halt. He looked at me, I looked at him, he spun around and ran off again. His legs below his hocks were much lighter than above, and they startled me as he vanished among the trees.

I glanced back down the trail. Hiking guy had paused there. With the crashing sounds and leafy crumples that accompany a running moose playing as soundtrack, we embarked on a game of charades. I pointed at the moose’s trajectory. He raised his shoulders. I stuck my pointer fingers up along either side of my head. He held his thumbs to his head and spread his fingers out wide. I gave him a thumbs up.

My sincere hope is that he got moose from all that. I suppose he could have been thinking coatrack, or, perhaps, explosion. I’ll never know. He ambled off along the trail, my ride arrived, and we all went on our separate ways.

Late July, 2014

Isn’t summer supposed to be lazy? Slow, relaxing, full of lemonade and good books and camping?

Apparently not.

This summer offers up driving and not sleeping enough and everything breaking–holy carp, everything I lay a hand on or live beneath or even think about breaks this summer. The plus side to it: I secretly enjoy broken things that prevent me from being able to use my computer to connect with the outside world from home. Only that lack of connections puts a damper on things like, oh, blog posts, for example.

How am I managing this post? The library, of course. I’ve been touring local libraries, depending on where life takes me. This one has plugs built in to the tables, which is brilliant if you have a sad little netbook battery that no longer wants to hold a charge (see–everything breaks). It has very high ceilings, and portraits of dour white people, and never as many patrons as I think it should. This morning, it is quiet, and in a moment I’ll be getting back to work.

The other thing about this summer? The wilds have come to call on us. Moose in the pond. Bear trying to strike up a conversation during dog walks. A lone hummingbird diligently milking the flowers outside the bedroom window. I suspect they have meetings in the early morning where they discuss the situation on our road. “Truth is,” the moose might say, “There’s a lot of breakage going on there. I can see it through the windows. I think it’s safe to move in closer.”

Another thing? My thyroid is not trying to kill me. That’s always a good thing.

The last thing? Throughout the spring and summer I agonize over turtles. They cross the highway everywhere around here, and they are killed in catastrophic numbers. I was driving a few weeks ago with too many fast cars behind me, and a very big truck coming toward me, and a turtle making a break for the other side of the road. I couldn’t stop to get it; I never would have made it in front of the truck. I was heartbroken about it, and dreaded turning back and finding the aftermath.

There was none. The turtle made it. The truck must have stopped, and the stopped truck must have made others stop, and this one time the turtle made it. I felt like the Doctor in the episode where he jumps wildly about after managing to save everyone from a medical accident and shouts “Everyone lives! Just this once, everyone lives!”

I hope your summer is going well.

A moose and some sunlight

I had a birthday last week. It was birthday-ish, with cake with sprinkles and a Buster Keaton movie and a moose. A real moose, four long legs and all, hanging out to say hi. We find signs of moose everywhere, but I’ve still only seen them in person a few times. Once when I came round a corner in a car and found a bull moose looking back at me, and another time when a very busy one trotted past us in the backyard, on her way to someplace important.

So that was good. We’ve also had a pair of Hooded Mergansers in the beaver pond of late. The male is quite handsome and a little full of himself. The female is lovely. For some reason the female mergansers, any variety, appeal to me far more than the males. They have beautiful cinnamon crests, and just look…I don’t know. Like a creature who has flown through the loneliest of places, a temporarily lost fairy queen, perhaps.

While the snow refuses to leave (we had yet another snow shower this morning), the sun continues to return. It is strong enough to warm the house during the day, and to make my winter coat seem a little foolish. I forget this every year, the fact that it is not that the winter decides to move on, but that the sun gains ascendancy. It’s comforting. There is no White Witch, keeping it forever cold and dark. It’s simply a question of waiting until the days lengthen and the sun rises and the birds begin to sing again.

When I was young and fascinated with astronomy, I was devastated to learn that some day the sun would run its course and be gone, and with it, us. That’s the trick of life though, isn’t it? Everything must run its course, and still we build and dream and sing and sleep and love and try to make the most of this impermanence. It’s not the lasting forever that’s important, it’s the passion we bring to our time here.

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