Harry’s mom is pregnant.
But back to that in a minute.
Of all the stories I have shared on this blog, Harry the Moose is the most popular.
My city friends love the story of the moose family that eluded the hunters. Friends up here smile when we talk about how smart these animals are. Even some of the oldtimers on the road seem happier that the moose are hanging around, rather than in a nice stew. Surprises me. But it is true.
When Abby Dog and I go on our hikes, we know the family is around.
This snow is perfect for seeing fresh, big tracks.
The tops of young trees are chewed to a point.
And lately we have been finding clumps of moose hair right on the trail. And impressive piles of moose poop too. It was only a matter of time.
Near the end of a walk the other afternoon, we saw movement on the ridge.
Of course, the binoculars were hanging on the coat rack back at the house. So I really had to squint. But there is no mistaking a moose. He sauntered a couple of steps. He looked in our direction. But then, another movement. A second moose moved up right beside him. And then another.
“I thought they were loners,” I mumbled.
Abby Dog sat perfectly still. She is the best dog ever.
“It’s okay. Let’s get closer,” I whispered to her. And she understood. That’s when there was a movement in the snow. A fourth moose had been laying down and got up. We could see snow on her backside.
When they were all together, they ambled across the ridge path and into the maple stand and down towards the river. They looked toward us a couple of times but they were not fussed.
Just so you know: A moose that isn’t fussed is quite elegant looking.
When we got to their hangout, they were out of sight.
We found trampled down snow, and then an outline where the moose had been resting, Her head and neck. A substantial torso. And long legs.
It seemed so vulnerable and fragile I got a lump in my throat.
The next day I realized why.
We were back up on the ridge. There was no sign of them
But you know that feeling you are being watched?
I looked into the maple stand and thought I saw what looked like a grizzly bear standing on its hind legs.
“My eyes are really getting bad,” I chuckled. “The next time those binoculars go straight around my neck. ”
With my next step I realized a moose was staring at me through a stand of young trees. I swear she had a quizzical look on her face.
Then she turned to trot away. She was almost as wide as she was tall.
Maybe it is a mom thing. I knew instantly she was pregnant. And I am no biologist, but I think it is twins. Harry is a twin, so this is quite possible.
And I think the outlines in the snow are because she is “taking a load off” – putting her feet up, as the moms among us can appreciate. The books say moose give birth in April or May.
My brother-in-law lives down the highway. He knows lots about wildlife and the woods and he agrees.
“Bring her up some of your potato and vegetable peels,” he advised. “More interesting than sapling tops. It would be a treat”.
So that’s what we have been doing.
We know that Moose Mommas have been giving birth up here forever. And the idea of two people making a trek up to the ridge to leave treats sounds a bit ridiculous. Citified romantic.
But for the past few days this little ritual has a special feeling to it. I guess we are saying thanks. For having babies like Harry. For letting us know this land is healthy. And for taking our minds off revolutions in Egypt, internet billing and all the other stuff that can crowd your brain.
Moose are amazing like that.