One of the perks to being self-employed in Alaska, is that we can blame suppliers for being late, when we just want to head out into the woods… or streams… or lakes…
We’ve had a little bit of everything this week, as far as weather goes. Warm temps, freezing rain, followed by a nice dumping of very wet snow. A solid eight inches at my cabin. I could have wrapped up the job, but there was no rush, as I’m already ahead of schedule, and the only thing remaining was replacing a special order light fixture. Besides, it was obvious that the snowshoes were being neglected.
I laced up the mukluks, and strapped on the Faber snowshoes, and headed out into the back four hundred for an afternoon in the fresh snow.
The only sound I heard came from the crunching of my steps. When I stopped moving, silence hung in the air. Not a brooding silence, but a peaceful, all is right in the world kind of silence, as long as one leaves the TV off.
There is very little to report on my romp. No people, no dog teams, and only one moose. A young one has been clinging to the cabin area, and I have yet to see the mother. It’s a small moose, probably one of last year’s calves. Which is highly unusual to not see signs of the cow, but even the small hoof prints on the trail are missing any adult moose tracks alongside. With this latest snowfall, the calf’s legs are not long enough to keep its belly out of the snow, when it goes off trail. I could tell, by the way it was staring, that the moose was jealous of my snowshoes.
I spent the day chasing material ghosts, as I attempted to work up a bid for a job I want. No matter how I approached the job, the materials simply were not in town. Two weeks was the mantra I heard from every supplier. It’ll be two weeks.
I gave up around 3pm, laced up my mukluks, and went outside to bring in firewood. The thermometer read -7F.
After the wood bin was full, I went on my afternoon walk. Already, I can see the gain in daylight since the solstice.
A moose had been by since the day before, it’s tracks under the willows plain to see. A musher came up from behind almost in silence. Two of her three dogs gave my gloved hand a light nip as they ran by. The musher apologized as she sped by me. I took the nibbles to mean the dogs were enjoying being out today as much as I was, but she was already out of range by the time my chilled lips spit out the words: “No worries”.
Dusk was settling in as I returned to the cabin, and the thermometer now read -13F. My eyelashes had iced up a bit, but other than that, life was good. Perfection lies somewhere between zero and minus twenty when you live in a winter wonderland such as this.
Comic credit: Jamie Smith – Nuggets
It’s a tad slick out there, as we bounce back & forth across the freezing mark.
I once had a moose climb onto my deck, and it landed in the same position as the one above. When it hit, the entire cabin shook. Once the tremor subsided, I went outside to see that the moose had moved off the deck, leaving four hoof slides, similar to the four points of a compass, marked in the fresh snow.
I’ve seen this guy a few times over the past week, and got a kick out of his determination. It’s hard to see due to the trees, but he has a rifle slung over his back. I have no doubt he can get back a ways on the logging roads riding a dirt bike, but that’s a lot of trips if he bags a bull moose.
I finally made my return to the Last Frontier. On the drive home, I saw three moose. It’s good to be home.
When I pulled back the drapes this morning, this young, bull moose, with buttons on his forehead, was looking directly into my kitchen window. I assume that he had heard me moving about the cabin, wondering what the noises were behind the black hole in the wall, because his nose was inches from the glass when I parted the sunlight-blocking, window coverings. By the time I grabbed a camera, he had started to move towards a tree to munch on. Mama moose is further back, and to the right, eating heartily.
In the end, I had to shoo them both off, in order to have a peaceful visit to the outhouse.
Saturday was a good day up on The Ridge.
In the morning, I met up with a mother grouse and her brood. The little chicks could not have stood much more than two inches off the ground. I wanted to get a picture, but Mama had a comfort zone just out of decent camera range, so I was content just to watch the family waddle around the edge of my yard.
Later in the day, after putting the sheathing on the new outhouse frame, I had twin moose yearlings join me near the bus. They did not look old enough to have been chased away by Mom yet, but I did not see Mother Moose either. She may well have been around, and chose to let her foolish children eat the birch and willow shoots down below my deck, right where I’d like to build the sauna.
It was time for a break anyway, so I kicked back in the chair on my deck and watched the twins, until they ate their way back into the trees.
The youngsters are out & about, exploring the world.