It doesn’t happen every time I’m in Colorado because we’re both busy chicks, but sometimes the stars align and my good friend, Susan, and I manage to finagle a free morning together to go for a hike. I call it a hike, anyway. Susan calls it walking her dog. Ha!
I’ve actually written about a hike with Susan before.
I no longer live at 10,000 feet altitude full time, have had my fair share of bad habits (which are dwindling!) over the years, and am not as physically fit as Susan, so we have a mutually agreed upon conversational cadence where I fill her in on my life as we stroll downhill and she catches me up on her life when we’re uphill.
It’s lovely. It flows. Like our friendship.
On this morning’s stroll, about half-way through, Susan stopped mid-sentence and asked, hushed, “What was that?” I couldn’t hear a thing over the sound of my sucking wind, but happily stopped under the guise of listening a little more intently so I could catch my breath.
Maybe it wasn’t a click. But it was something like…something like I can’t type phonetically. And I’m creative and shit.
I had even less of an idea what the sound was coming from though.
“That’s a moose. I’ve never heard one make that sound before.”
Of course Susan knew.
We both peered off in the direction the sound was coming from, which was a wooded area a little ways uphill across the dirt road. Before long, unsurprisingly at this point, a moose emerged walking directly toward us. Walking directly toward us a bit too determinedly for my liking.
Turns out she was walking a bit too determinedly towards us for Susan’s liking as well.
“I don’t like that sound. Let’s get back in these trees!”
We traversed the ditch on the side of the road, slowly but likely as determinedly as the impending moose, and retreated into a cluster of trees.
I want to describe this because it’s part of the hilarity of this story. There just so happened to be two trees in this cluster that appeared to be growing from the same root, and we each grabbed one. Susan grabbed the one facing the road, and I grabbed the one facing downhill, as we were also on a steep incline. This happened to put us butt to butt, hugging trees. Holding one another in place, because slipping down the incline was not outside of the realm of possibility.
It was as though the Universe had put those two trees there for just this occasion.
We were one with these trees. However un-zen-like it felt.
I don’t know how long this all took, but momentarily I heard Susan say, “Oh Teresa, there’s another one! Do you see it?”
I told her I did not see it. I did not tell her my inability to see the second moose was because my eyes were closed and my face was buried in bark.
And maybe I was talking to Larry. My Spirit Guide.
“Dude! I’m freaking spiritual? These are God’s creatures! Why am I a scared fucking moron right now? Larry? LARRY?”
The pronouncement of a second moose did encourage me to at least lay my eyes on it so I could see for myself that there was, in fact, a second moose. And there was. Off to the other side.
I’d like you to imagine, two ladies clinging to trees on the side of a dirt road, one furnished with a leash attached to a whimpering dog eager to play Chase the Moose (I bet at least a few of you forgot that while I’m hiking, Susan is walking her dog, Tia), a female moose to the right about a McDonald’s-store-sized distance away (laugh if you must but I suck at guesstimating distance and that was the first thing to pop into my head!), and a male to the left, at about the same distance.
Engrossed as I was with the tree bark before me, I had not ascertained the respective genitalia of our moose onlookers, but I think Susan must moonlight as a damn zoologist or something. Maybe she hadn’t had time to fill me in on that endeavor in our previous walks. Perhaps we should walk uphill more. Clearly I’m out of the loop.
Invisible in this scene, yet still massively present, were the thoughts running through my head…what exactly would death by moose be like? Surely moose don’t eat people? Do they bite? Would we be memorialized on the front page of the Summit Daily? What would the headline be? What on Earth would my friends in Texas think? Jersey? Mississippi?
These thoughts were interrupted only by Susan whispering loudly, and a little too eagerly than was appropriate given the current circumstances, “Oh my goodness, Teresa! We’ve interrupted a moose date! They’re rutting!”
I’d never heard the word ‘rutting’ before, but I’m darn good at extrapolating meaning.
Anyway, after contemplating us for a moment (probably a shorter moment than it felt) the female snarfed and scampered off into the valley below us. You know, nevermind. I think bunnies scamper. Moose don’t scamper. She galloped. Yes. Galloped is more like it.
Her suitor, remembering what it was he’d been getting on about before being so rudely interrupted by a couple of noisy talking white trees, followed in lusty pursuit.
Shaken but alive, we climbed out of the ditch on the side of the road, dusted ourselves off, waved at the truck who had missed the whole thing but slowed down because we must have looked a bit disheveled, and continued walking and laughing.
We walked the remainder of our hike uneventfully. Arriving back at Susan’s house I admit, I breathed a bit easier and not only because our hike at 10,000 feet altitude had come an end.
On the drive home I remembered the morning Susan was to take me to the airport to fly to Mississippi for rehab. The morning I encountered a mama moose and her two babies just past the driveway. I remembered how significant that felt.
I looked up the spiritual symbolism of moose when I got home and laughed a bit when I saw confidence.
I’m going to sit with that for a while. Confidence has been a lifelong quest, and I might’ve strayed from that path a bit.
Thank you, Universe, for the reminder.