And this one:
So basically, I was enjoying the scenery as night was falling. Then suddenly just in front of me, I came upon a mother moose and baby moose browsing in front of me, blocking my progress on the trail. This presented a dilemma: turning around to detour would likely set me back ten miles. I pondered the situation:
1. I recalled that more folks are killed by moose than by bears in Alaska.
2. Trampled to death.
3. Moose, like bears, dislike having humans get too close to their progeny.
4. So I got off my bicycle and paused about 40 feet from the pair, and waited helplessly for them to stop browsing beside MY trail and move on. (I figured that if the mother turned on me, at least I would have my bicycle between me and her -- but that was not entirely reassuring.)
5. When they continued browsing (child indifferent to me, mother alternatively browsing and eying me) I attempted to reason with them.
6. My conversation, or rather my monologue, went something like this:
-- "Heloooo, Mooses. How are you this evening?"
-- "I mean you no harm."
-- "Could I just pass by, on this side of the road?" (gesturing)
-- "Mrs. Moose, your calf is Bea-uti-ful!"
Repeat, repeat, repeat
This went on for about 20 minutes, with Mother Moose browsing and eyeing me.
Finally they both went into the deeper woods to the right. I had about five seconds to breathe a sigh of relief; then I heard a crashing in the brush where the moose had disappeared. My first thought was that Mother Moose had chosen this moment to attack. But instead of trampling me, she was trampling through the bush.
I rode on cautiously, then faster. In about a mile I saw two bears in the distance, right on the trail. But no, they were just a man and woman taking a walk.
I stopped to tell them about the moose, now back a mile or so. "Oh, no," they said. "We heard about the mooses and were hoping to see them!"
Back at my camp I tried to recollect the various sensations I had experienced while taking part in this little vignette of wild nature. That's one of the things we are studying this quarter in my class on the History of the American Wilderness -- our reactions to wilderness experiences. In the first place I felt pretty calm at the time, but I was definitely not going to get any closer to the moose. My main worry was that this stand off might go on for hours, and it was getting cold and dark. (darker than the image below suggests -- in post-production I brightened it so that you could see the baby moose more clearly.)
My default sensation was a combination of analysis and caution. But reading myself more deeply I discovered these sensations deep inside: 1) fear ready to come to the surface of my consciousness. Had I been a dog, the hair on my back would have been standing up; 2) even deeper, like faint clouds on my mental horizon, I had a sensation of wonder: here it was, what my students and I have discussed again and again this quarter; the awe-some-ness of wild nature.
So thank you Mother Moose.... And, yes, your child is beautiful!