Evan's Eyes

Web Log Entry #0063, Tuesday, April 22, 2003: Day 155

Anchorage Sunrise: 6:18am Sunset: 9:38pm High Temp: 46° Low Temp: 34°

I saw a moose during my morning commute, and I wasn't going to make a big deal about it. So far I've seen several moose (or possibly the same moose several times), so I can now view them with the casual interest displayed by long-term Alaskans. I still think it's really neat to see them, but imagine driving across Iowa and your passenger said "Hey look! Cows!" EVERY time. The car would be one body lighter by the time it reached the border, if you know what I mean. So I wasn't going to even write about it.

That was before I went to make a cup of tea about 9:30. I'm in the break room, and a moose walks RIGHT OUTSIDE THE WINDOW. Even better, he stops, then has a bit of a lie-down. It must take a lot of energy to be a moose. What with the window and everything I couldn't reach out and touch him (although if the window opened and I had a pointed stick I could have goosed him, reminiscent of the "Moose-gooser" poem by Percy Bysshe Shelley (Or was it Keats?))

His breath puffed out into a faint mist in the cold air. At first I thought he might be hurt or had sprinted across the street, it looked like he was panting. Apparently that's how moose breathe, as he kept panting away lying down. It must take a lot of air to run a moose. Even through the glass, standing so close to a wild moose was indescribable. I could see the individual hairs in his coat. On his body they were long and rough, the better to keep warm with, I suppose. But on his head (I've never had a good look at the top of a moose's head before), it's short and furry. And then there's the ears. Have you ever looked closely at a moose's ears? They're adorable! Almost twice as long as my hand, covered with short fur that looked incredibly soft, like a giant mitten. I wanted to pet them! A moose's ears can independently track sounds like a cat's ears do, so these big, fuzzy mittens kept swiveling around as he lay there, breathing. Occasionally he'd hear something that seemed worth looking at, and he'd turn his head. Think of poetic phrases like "dark, limpid pools" and that's what a moose's eyes are like. Fabulous.

Even though he wasn't doing much, I had to watch him. He did start chewing while he was lying there. I guess I'd never thought about it before, but moose are cud-chewing animals (or "unguents"), which must be a great time-saver. Then he yawned and licked his lips, which they probably don't do in public very often because it's the funniest damn thing. Once again, I can't really describe it, you'll just have to find a moose and watch it until it yawns. It's worth it.

I had my own private moose viewing for quite a while, but it was too good to keep secret. Fortunately, the first Alaskan that I told about my moose was quite excited because he wanted to get some moose pictures. He got his camera and took several shots, including this one:

Photo courtesy of Doug Caveny

Don't be fooled if he sort of looks the size of a large dog; think horse with extra-long legs.

Then I told some other Alaskans, and they were actually excited to see him up close, so there was quite a cluster of people inside the window. Of course, everyone started telling moose stories, which fall into three types: 1) Moose sightings, 2) Plants eaten by Moose, 3) Moose-Car accidents. I noticed they carefully avoided accounts of carnivorous moose.

Although my moose had sat quietly while pedestrians had passed by on the sidewalk, when an older man carrying two plastic bags of groceries approached, the moose quickly stood and stepped toward this apparent threat. Perhaps the moose recognized the man, or maybe he just hates Wal-Mart and anyone who shops there. The man wisely crossed the street under the reproachful moose gaze. After he was gone, the moose wandered off in the unhurried way of an 800-lb wild animal with attitude. I went back to work, knowing that anything that would happen at my desk today couldn't compare to my close encounter of a moose kind.

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© 2003 Evan M. Nichols