It’s a little before midnight and two moose are curled up in our yard, a mother and a calf. It feels magical to sit inside while just a few feet away lies two very large and untamed animals.
It’s what I love about Anchorage, that the wilderness is so near, and how it often seeps, almost unaware, into your life.
I feel a special fondness for moose. They are so awkward looking, with their thin legs and knobby knees, and the way they lurch when they walk, as if unsure how to move their bodies. They remind me of boys caught in that ungainly stage of early teenhood, slinking around inside their liquid dreams, and how every step, every movement betrays them for what they really are: Boys with the yearnings of men.
Once, a few years ago, I was writing, and something knocked at the window. I ignored it and kept on writing. When the knock became louder, more insistent, I peered through the blinds I came face-to-face with a moose, tapping its nose against the window as if to say, in companionship or solace: Hello, I know it’s late but I’m awake too.
Don’t get me wrong, though. I don’t view moose as furry cute animals or oversized dogs. They are wild. They are unapproachable. They have been known to injure and occasionally kill people who came too near.
I know. I’ve been charged three times, each time after I unintentionally ran between a cow and its calf. One was a fake charge. The other time I climbed a tree. The third time I barricaded myself behind a thick strand of brush, and that stubborn moose pushed in so close that I could feel her breath on my bare leg. (I may or may not have wet myself a wee bit in fright.)
So yes, moose aren’t to be messed with. Yet living here in Anchorage, they are all around us: Walking down the middle of the street, lumbering along the trails, chewing the heck out of the neighbor’s prize apple trees.
And even though I’ve come across moose in hundreds of instances, each time is special, and treasured.
Tonight, I don’t know why, but knowing that two moose are sleeping out in the yard feels like a gift.