Tuesday, February 3, 2015

The Daily Moose

Caretaker’s Log, Saturday, January 31, 2015

I'm up a little before nine. I stayed up too late reading last night and have lingered in bed this morning, cozy in the warmth. It doesn't matter. Everything gets done, and not very far off my "normal" schedule. I'm not really on a schedule. All that’s really time sensitive is making sure the bulk charge starts at nine and then making sure it turns off at eleven so that I can reset the ah removed to zero.

After breakfast, which is Scottish oatmeal, and some milling about, I put on snowshoes and head up past the dam toward the snowmachine road. I want to go farther than I ever have. A lot of airplanes fly overhead. Mostly commercial planes, but I hear one small plane whirring out of sight just over a ridge. When the planes aren't disturbing the air around me, I hear the wind dancing around the trees, the creaking of branches, the soft sigh of touch between current and limbs. I see wolf tracks, small creature tracks, deer, moose, rabbit. The way is all uphill. After the first property fence, I have to break new trail as I go. Once I follow in a moose’s tracks, but then its path veers off to the right and I go left. I've been this way before, on skis, last winter.

I get as far as I’d gotten then and go past, just a little bit farther. The view behind me is stark and alien. The peaks of the distant mountains barely cresting the snow covered hill I've only just climbed and now descended. In front of me, are more trees. One day I'll go into their shade and beyond. For now, my legs protest any more distance. I eat a snack, drink half my water, and then I turn around and head for home. Going downhill is much faster. Going over already broken trail is much easier. My trip up took one hour and twenty minutes. I'm down in a quick thirty-seven.

At the lodge I get a bath, wash some clothes, and eat.

I talk to Grandmama. I talk to Jesse.

I read.

That quickly, it's night. The stars are out. Venus in the west. Jupiter in the east. The moon is waxing full.

I eat crackers, hummus, and cheese for dinner. For some reason this feels decadent.

While I'm brushing my teeth I hear a sound—a lowing, plaintive call. I look out the window and see the antlered moose! He's alone in the front yard. He paws at the snow and then moves around the side of the building. I go downstairs and follow his movements from window to window in the den. The light on my phone spooks him and he runs from it until I black out the light with my palm. He eats around a little tree, eats around a bigger one, grazes at the edge of the incinerator shed.

Then I see another moose, and the third. They come out from behind the incinerator shed and move to find their own meals. The baby eats the exposed grass along the edge of the lodge with his face toward the window. I'm up next to that window, only ten feet separate us. Only five. The baby moves along the length of the house. I move too. The baby is right against the west facing window and so am I. So close that if the window were open I could reach out and touch those ears, run my hand along that bony back. I stand quiet so as not to spook the baby. It’s gangly with long legs and floppy ears. I can hear the crunch of snow under its feet when it moves. I can hear the sound of it crushing the grass between its teeth. Only a wall, only glass separate us.

The mama moose eats grass along the side of the propane shed. After a bit, she heads out around the woodpile and into the reeds. A moment goes by, and then the baby gallops after her. Soon, the antlered moose follows. He lows again, once or twice. And I can no longer distinguish them from the willows in the dark.

I go to sleep thrilled with such a close encounter.

Caretaker’s Log, Sunday, February 1, 2015


There are two moose in the northwest reeds. The three moose from last night are across the river behind the propane shed. They aren't used to me. The antlered moose lows and protests as I come to check the bulk charge in the generator shed. Over the course of the morning, they make their way to the west field, across it, and then settle down in the snow under the trees to rest.

There’s a lone moose up on the east slope.

I get some potatoes, eggs, and apples out of the root cellar. I throw out the molded winter squash that's possibly been here since November. It was already moldy when I arrived.

I make scalloped potatoes and scrambled eggs for breakfast.

I rehang the picture that fell off the wall on me several weeks ago.

I sweep.

I change the linens on the bed and the towels in the bathroom.

Paul, the owner calls to check in. I tell him about the moose, the animal tracks I’ve seen, and my excursions. He asks about the weather, the snow depth, if the river has frozen over, and if I’ve had visitors.

I read.

The day goes by.

I eat an apple. I bring in some wood. Entertain the cat. Do a walk around. It looks like it's going to snow.

I write.

6:00 is weather time. Over the past twenty-four hour period there was a high of 27 and a low of -18. The current temperature is 21 degrees.

Phinehas calls.

I eat the rest of the scalloped potatoes for dinner.

I write. My character gives up on his project after he and his family are threatened. Now to simply give him a strong enough reason to resume it.

I settle in for the night. It’s warm and cozy by the fire.

Caretaker’s Log, Monday, February 2, 2015

It's Groundhog Day. Although Bill Murray might have exaggerated when he said, "This winter will never end," it is a fact that Phil sees his shadow every single Groundhog Day, right? There's always six more weeks of winter from February 2nd.

It's bright and sunshiny here today. I've been here for five weeks.

Before I start my morning fire, I clear the accumulated ash out of fireplace. Now I need to dust and vacuum and mop. There’s probably a fine sheen of ash all over me too.

When I go to reset the ah removed to zero I stop and watch two moose gallop up the north slope, hop the fence, and disappear into the trees. They make moving through the snow look so easy.

It feels like there's a storm on the way. I wouldn't mind a good snowstorm.

I write.

Light flurries start up about two o'clock. I go outside for some brisk, fresh air. The cat is bored. Two moose are munching shoots in the near distance.

I write for a good part of the afternoon. My character is drinking beer and trying to figure out how to stay under the proverbial radar.

The moose, mama and baby, are just across the river. I go around back to photograph them. The mama is resting in the snow. I move slowly, the cat leading the way, so as not to disturb the mama moose, not to spook the baby. They watch me approach. Then pay me no mind. The baby settles in the snow next to its mama and they leave me to my own devices.

The cat loves our walks. She thinks it's our daily ritual now. Silly cat.

I eat a snack--the rest of the hummus I'd brought, some crackers, and cheese.

I read. I'm almost to the end of White Oleander.

Finally, after teasing all day, it snows. I'm so happy for this snow.

I write.

I go out and record the weather. The moose have snow coating their coats, a white blanket for each.

The moon is nearly full.

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