Essay: Moose Spirit
A dead moose in March is an offering, a welcome feast.
—by Tom Johnson
She was beautiful in final repose.
Moose are easy to see in snow country. First you see their posthole footprints going from forage shrub to forage shrub. Then you see them. Big black things out of place/context in the white landscape. When I first saw her there was something odd about the way she was lying down in the snowfield. As I approached closer, it was easy to notice that she wasn’t tracking my presence at all. She’s dead. I knew it.
As I reached her final resting place I realized that I was the first mammal to arrive since her very recent return to Source. Less than a day. No mouse, cougar, raccoon, rabbit, or coyote tracks in the snow to indicate any visitors.
A huge, old female body lying down in death, arching her neck to the south, and expiring. One last breath. She was so perfect that when I first touched her, I expected her to rise up startled and snorting.
I knelt down, put both hands on her body, and felt her legs, her hooves, her chest, her back, her ribs, her neck. Felt her power and life and body in my fingertips. At a distance the coat is so dark it passes as black. Up close it is many colored/layered nuances of fur. Different coat on sides, on legs, on shoulders, on back. I kneaded my fingers into the thick, rich, luminous coat around her shoulders. Coarse hair, six inches deep, of a quality one can only imagine. Deep, curly and wiry in some places, short and smooth on her face. Said a prayer to her life, greeted her in death. The most intimate thing was to caress her face. Lightly.
Once her death ripens, smells will emerge to call wildlife in for the feast. I’ve seen it before, how a tribe of coyotes will discover this food source, call in their brothers and sisters, family and friends, and in the course of several nights eat the entire thing – seven feet tall in life, a thousand pounds of meat. Their tracks circle in on the site from all directions like highway patterns radiating from the arena of activity. The coyotes seem to only feed in darkness, unseen, and return every night until this timely, welcome feast in the month-of-scarce-food is wholly consumed. Recycled prana. Life in cycle. Circles in time. From Source to Source. As it should be.
What a thing to see, touch, feel. Today.