1970s – Magical Moose

In Jolicure, NB, we lived in a pretty remote area, surrounded by empty fields and bordered by miles of forest and Long Lake, so we had our moments with the wildlife out there.

The red farmhouse from the lake in summertime

The Red Farmhouse from the lake – summertime. You can see the upstairs hall window on the left of the house – its the upper dormered window

The first winter we were there in January 1973, we had just moved into our old farmhouse and were in the process of making the house liveable – and we didn’t really know the area at all. We didn’t have a dog yet so we weren’t going for walks everywhere everyday and it wasn’t spring yet with the impassable mud road that we had to hike along. Also we were newbies to the countryside having lived in the NYC area for our entire lives and weren’t quite up to speed with the natural world that we had just launched ourselves into. So we had not yet met our wildlife neighbors.

One wintery January day close to dusk, I happened to look out our upstairs hall window. The view was across some fields and a hilly incline to the abandoned white farmhouse that stood between us and the forest – just down the road that went by our house to the tiny community of Midgic (which was about 7 miles of forest away).

The abandoned white farmhouse, Jolicure

The abandoned white farmhouse near our house on the road to Midgic. You can see the forest in the distance.

Anyway, I saw what looked like 4 horses frolicking around in a circle on the distant rise in front of the white house – they were big and very graceful and looked like some magical vision there in the wintery dusk. I called to everyone to come see – and as I stood there watching I realized they were moose. I couldn’t believe that these giants could look so light on their feet. Big lumbering awkward, funny looking moose – but these were so graceful – like ballet dancers graceful. It was a beautiful sight and one I never saw again… though we saw moose frequently thereafter…

Bullwinkle the Moose

I grew up watching the cartoon Rocky and Bullwinkle – I think this is actually a very realistic portrayal of a handsome moose.

We had one giant bull moose that lived somewhere behind our house by the lake. We would see him pretty regularly swimming across the lake in the evening as the sun went down – his big head and enormous antlers seemingly floating along the still water. And we could hear him sometimes – a big deep bellowing/honking kind of sound that echoed off the forest wall and across the lake. (click on the word ‘HERE’ at this link to hear a bull moose http://moosetique.com/moose-sound/)

The other moose seemed to live in the forest on the road to Midgic. It was uncanny how sometimes we’d go for a walk with the dog down the dirt/mud road and it would be clear of car tracks and animal tracks – washed clean, say, after a rain.

moose tracks, image from all-about-moose.com

Moose tracks
(image from all-about-moose.com)

When we’d turn around to go home along the same stretch of road we’d see our tracks from earlier. But it wasn’t just our tracks anymore – the entire surface of the road would be covered with moose and deer tracks. They’d apparently watched us go by, and then come out and run up and down the road. Then when we were returning, jump back into the brush before we could see them.

This is the honest truth, really. It happened all the time.

I spent many hours out in the forest alone with just the dog, and I never ran into a moose. The dog and I would follow game trails and old logging roads and find animal tracks, and droppings and see where wild animals had nibbled the trees and plants or left the remains of a kill.

A big moose seen in McAdam New Brunswick, http://northerncomfort.info/bigmoose.html

A Big Moose seen in McAdam, New Brunswick,
image from http://northerncomfort.info/bigmoose.html

I never encountered anything dangerous and only ever heard things breaking twigs or crunching through the underbrush off in the distance. I knew the moose were there, and I’d heard about bears, and I’d seen wildcat tracks. But these animals were elusive and though they may have been interested in us, they never approached and always kept a distance.

I was never afraid of the wildlife there. Even when I knew they were watching us…

I’ll be writing about some of the other wildlife near our house in Jolicure, in a future post.

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