Monday morning I hiked to the road with Michelle to see her off to work, and to haul a few items out from the “homestead” and others in. We had said our goodbyes when I turned to see an animal approaching at a lope against the sun. It appeared to be a Great Dane.
I don’t know anyone who owns this type of dog, and, while the amazingly well behaved dogs of Haines sometimes wander free, they most often have a human in tow. At any rate, I’ve never heard any dog make the noise this one did: a quiet, plaintive honk or bleat.
Then my mind focused.
A very young, very upset moose calf came trotting toward me, crying piteously.
I barely had a moment to think. I stepped to the shoulder of the road, scanning behind the calf, then all around, looking for its mother. It began to come right up to me, apparently desperate for any kind of reassurance it could find. I warned it off, continued to scan for Mama, and fumbled for my camera in its hip holster.
I managed to chase it away before it got closer than arm’s length. It ran past where Michelle sat in the car, and headed up the road. As usual, far too late, I managed a poor snapshot of its cute little butt.
I noticed the calf was wet, as if it had recently been swimming or wading. This meant that I needed to be careful on the way home. Mama might be on the peninsula, and my hike home could be met by a half ton of organic locomotive. I made my way home without further excitement. Michelle watched as she drove to work, but didn’t see the calf on the road. It apparently detoured into the woods our out on to the bay meadow.
On the hike out, we’d discussed the likelihood of a new calf on the peninsula. Sometime Sunday afternoon, a moose came into our compound to browse, while Michelle worked in the garden and I fished off the rocks. From the size of its tracks, we assume it’s a yearling recently run off by its mother, which she would do right around the time she gave birth to this year’s calf. We were on alert for an encounter, but I never expected it right there on the road!
Hopefully, mother and child reunited. If I had given in to my heart’s desire, to accept its approach, to pet and comfort the sweet little creature, its mother would likely abandon it. It would then fall victim to a predator, or starve.