Moose Hunting Postcard
My dad used to say the best thing about going away was coming home again. It was so nice to take a hot bath and get into clean clothes that were made from materials I can pronounce. Like cotton. Chip and I swung by Fish and Game and checked the white board in the window with the moose count on it on our way home. "Fifteen!" he said. "And not one of them ours ?" The moose we saw will live to father children.
It was fun though, walking through the woods very quietly. Reading in the tree stand. (Two books, Love Medicine by Louise Erdich and All New People by Anne LaMott.) Listening to the silence so complete that I swear after a few hours I could hear one cottonwood leaf falling from the top of a tree all the way to the ground.
We saw (and heard) geese, ducks, trumpeter swans and red tailed hawks hovering over the swamps. One of the bull moose (none had enough brow tines) we came upon while tip-toeing through the brush sent me diving for cover. They are huge close-up, especially when you are standing in the tangled alder and muck and wearing hip boots and only about twenty feet away as one snorts and stomps, and there is not a decent tree in sight to climb up. Also, since we are trying to kill him, or one of his relatives, I understand why he may not be thinking charitable thoughts about us. When I say so to Chip after the moose slowly walks away (finally), he says I think too much.
One afternoon we startled a brown bear. Another morning I heard a rustling below the tree stand, coming from a longish way away. It was too small to be a moose. I guessed maybe it was that bear again. Turns out it was a marten. A fat sleek black cousin of a mink. When he was right below us, he looked up at me with his bat ears and sharp teeth and hissed and spit. Then he circled around giving us dirty looks and snapping before slinking off. I liked that little mean marten. Maybe we will see him again out there at the end of the week. (The season lasts until Oct.7)
In the meantime, I've gained some perspective from sitting still, thinking, watching and listening to the river and the wind and the sounds of boats moving in and out of the other camps, on my place in the family of things, as Mary Oliver says. We are living on borrowed time.(I mean that in the best way.) You can feel that in your bones hanging out on an ancient braided river hemmed in by jagged mountains and glaciers.
The title of Anne LaMott's novel comes from a line in the book. The characters are all caught up in the sixties political turmoil, as well as a family crisis and community changes that they care passionately about. Then one character sighs and says not to worry, that a hundred years from now there will be "all new people."