We spent most of the year looking for wildlife at our cabin, which butted against the corner of two nationally protected lands—one park and one forest. “I think I see something!” I once shouted to my husband, Tim, mid-winter. “Oh wait, it’s just a dog,” I muttered, disappointedly. “That’s not a dog. That’s a wild coyote!” he said. We laughed. For months it went like this, waiting, hoping, and usually not ending in anything eventful, except that coyote came back once more and some deer pranced by occasionally.
Then on the cusp of spring turning to summer, on Memorial Day weekend, as we drank our coffee one morning on the back porch, to our amazement a couple elk sauntered by. Excitedly, we sprang up in silent disbelief! Slowly, one by one, more trickled through. Finally, we thought, it was happening just like the previous owners said it would.
As we tucked our daughter into bed that same night and cozied up on the couch by the fire, the sun just about to set, I caught something out of the corner of my eye. I popped up, mumbling inaudible, wildly pointing and gesturing for Tim to follow me. “M-m-moose!” I finally sputtered, its sheer size rendering me speechless. Tim bolted out the front door to chase after it as it casually (but quickly!) strolled down our street.
The following day, we trailed a couple more elk into the forest and I gasped when I turned around to find three more were actually trailing me. We spent the rest of our summer looking for more wildlife, only to find a flock of turkeys gobble by and more prancing deer.
It wasn’t until Labor Day weekend when a moose made another appearance. We heard a crunching sound coming from the front of our cabin. As we crept around the side—there it stood—one mighty and massive bull moose. We watched in awe as it chomped down at the base of an aspen tree branch and slid its mouth sideways along the length of the stick, devouring all leaves in its path in one fell swoop. It didn’t seem to mind much that we were staring, mouths ajar, or unobtrusively snapping photos.
We must have spent over an hour that day gazing at him, not uttering a word—a truly mesmerizing experience, basking in all of nature’s superb glory.
What we learned that summer is that wildlife appear when you least expect it—always—even if you’re always half-expecting it. And that the best sightings seem to be on long holidays weekends. I guess they like roaming around in nature on extended weekends as much as we do.