I don’t know if anyone truly understands why they’re drawn to moose. Moose don’t seem to know either. They stare from the edge of the woods, wondering at the screeching tires, the commotion and slamming doors, camera shutters and exclamations. The roadside moose heads off into the forest. And in the forest, you never seem to find them.
Years ago, I decided to start looking for them anyway. I hadn’t figured out why the roadside moose never really stirred me up the way it seemed to for others. It would seem that a moose on a curvy mountain road is just as wild as a moose in the backcountry. I couldn’t put my finger on why it mattered to me deep down. One day, I bumped into a moose on one of my forest quests, bushwhacking off-trail up in the White Mountain National Forest. I didn’t see it, but I tracked it to its bed and startled it in the near darkness. When the moose jumped up and went smashing down the mountain slope, two completely separate things dawned on me at the same time. The first thing I realized is that the moose was so big that it was literally crushing and running over trees on its way down the mountain. The second thing that dawned on me was that these pilgrimages to find these creatures, these forest quests I’ve been making for years, have really been pilgrimages to find ME, not the moose. The wild me. The me that doesn’t really exist when I’m in a car, or a building or an office. The roadside moose is the same moose 3 miles away in a ridge-top snowstorm, but I am not. I’m different when I’m way back in the woods. I’m fiercer, I’m wilder. I’m more.
Today, I’m glad I still haven’t answered all the questions about why the “wild” me is a “better” me. But I know that taking a walk in the woods is good for the soul. In the woods, the Maker whispers his love in the snowflakes and the windy pines and oaks. And today, in a spring snowstorm on a forested ridge, I found another moose. I hope this picture breathes a bit of wild beauty into your heart.
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Here’s a closer at this beautiful moose: