This popped up on my phone today – one year ago we had just moved into the acreage. The hubs was in the yard cleaning up his little fishing boat to get it ready for winter and he looked up to see this fellow wandering across the driveway. “Bullwinkle” was to be a semi-regular visitor.
He first appeared in our garden when we were new to the neighbourhood and still caught up with romance of the idea of living out of town. We were excited to have ample space for the boys to play and wandered our newly-acquired acres dreaming of tree-forts and rope swings in years to come.
We caught glimpses of the moose gliding through the trees on his impossibly long legs as we prepared our first, and as it turned out only, house party.
He left his unmistakable imprint in the snow in the midst of winter when we struggled with isolation, sickness and worry about living too far from our parents.
He appeared again with a friend in early spring, just as we made the decision to endure a second renovation and house move a mere six months after moving to the acreage.
Whenever he arrived, we corralled the dogs in the house and watched through the windows as the huge creature made his way slowly, serenely through our garden. He was everything that was wonderful, and everything that was worrying about living out of town: a majestic enigma, unimaginably powerful and dangerously unpredictable. He always appeared without warning, a dark spectre staying for hours or minutes and then disappearing into the cover of the bush from whence he had come.
Over the summer, while we renovated and moved into our new home, we could often hear him through the leafy foliage and catch whiffs of his unmistakable salty breath. When we handed over the keys and bid our country home adieu, we warned the new owners to be watchful for our friend, the curious ungulate who occasionally came to say hello.
Like so many things about living away from the city, we will miss the idea of him more than the reality. He was a novelty, a remarkable sight, but one whose presence necessitated caution and more work, worry and inconvenience than we could have planned for.
The new house is in the centre of the city, but it overlooks the river valley, a vibrant corridor of green that connects the Rocky Mountains to the prairies and beyond. There are mornings when I find coyote trails on our front lawn, evidence of deer and porcupine; we know there are even bobcat and cougar lurking somewhere under the shadows of the trees just beyond our front door. Here, the wild and the wonderful are close enough to enjoy, but not so far away from everything else as to be a concern. And that, we have learned in the past year, is the right balance for us.