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June 14, 2022

Every Dark Cloud has a Silver Lining, and a Willow Monster Lighting the Way

The bull moose returned yesterday.

As we sit together this evening, the moon is nearly full. From the front porch, my husband and I watch clouds drift past, eclipsing the illumination for a time. The pine-ridged southern horizon looks like an army of soldiers waiting in stillness to march together at the behest of the moon, perhaps in fabulous celebration honoring lunar presence.

The clouds drift past again, then disappear eastward. Throughout the evening, they eclipse the moon’s vibrant illumination, then drift eastward, again.

The valley lights up as though to emulate a light in a football stadium being turned on. It is in that moment, quiescence rests upon peace like the clouds holding steady on the horizon.

Out of the aspen grove at the west end of the pasture emerges a tall, dark, four-legged figure. The dogs see him first and alert on the perceived danger. Noses held high in the air, they sniff to acquaint and identify.

The resident bull moose stands in the stillness of lunar illumination for a while. He, too, is sniffing with his nose high in the air.

They say moose have poor eyesight, but better olfactory senses. Somewhere on that magnificently bulbous head of his, lies his ability to detect threats in his environment.

The bull moose ambles slowly out into the openness of the pasture.. Under full lunar illumination, I can see our friend ambling in the willows along the creek. He pauses with each mouthful long enough to take in large bites of fresh green willow leaves.

In the silhouette, I can see fresh antlers sprouting on his strong young body. He’s as stately and gorgeous as he is wild. The dogs don’t agree on all my characterizations of our ungulate friend. For them, he is the Willow Monster appearing from the depths of the willows as we take our morning valley walks. Unseen but not undetected, he emerges from the deep green like a creature from the sea.

Twice now, he and his family surprised us at our near peril, triggering a chaotic canine melee straining on leads to challenge our thousand-pound friend. Restraining one-hundred-pound dogs charged up in defensive energy is challenging, indeed. We manage to pull them away, bolting for the safety of indoors.

Once, our disabled dog, Willie Grommit, flipped his wheelchair in all the brouhaha. The surprised yearling moose was as filled with curiosity as Willie was panic.

Our bull moose friend has been here in the valley since Sunday night, browsing on fresh green willow leaves and scratching his bony rump on the Ponderosa pine branches. He’s spent the warmer hours this early June in the cool of the aspen grove.

Now, he is hungry for willow leaves under the moonlight.

We herd the dogs indoors, the clouds float across the moon once again. But this time, the darkest clouds linger for a time longer. The bull moose drops back into the shadows. As I stare up at the moon, the glow edging the darkness, is unmistakable:

It is the silver lining appearing for us all to see.

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