Porch Moose Morning

Don’t you have somewhere else to be?

Well Steve, this year I’ve decided to tell the readers about an adventure of our local Cariboo chapter of Fibs and Follies of Woods Wise Women, Judy and I. As heart-warming a tale as it may be, it bears no shortage of risk and danger of the kind known only to those shivering in the chill grey of a fall morning, bolting to heed the call of nature.

The men had saddled up the pack horses, as they do every year in late fall, loaded with aging photographic equipment and youthful enthusiasm as they set out for the mountains of the South Chilcotin.

In contrast, we hopped on our quads and headed for a lakeside cabin we knew of where we warmed our woolens by the woodstove, played poker, made brownies and dozed with magazines (Steve, I won’t say which one for fear of being thought to be sucking up to your contest.)

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The other thing baking in the cabin was us. Heat radiated from the old iron stove, turning our complexions beet red. Stoked by seasoned stove wood, the cabin huffed and puffed through the leaking door jam.

Little did we know that two yearling moose had bedded down in the warmth of the porch. In the snoozy confines of our cabin, it seemed that we’d neglected the great outdoors where the morning was also yawning to life. This oversight was soon revealed.

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Illustration by Keith Milne and Gord Coulthart.
Illustration by Keith Milne and Gord Coulthart.

“I’ve got first dibs on the biffy,” announced Judy.

“What’s a biffy?” I asked. “Oh, you mean the outhouse. Nobody calls it a biffy anymore.” For that matter, what’s a dib, I thought. Nobody gets called Judy anymore either.

“Say Judy, here’s a thought. Why don’t you shovel a scoop or two of hot coals into that tin bucket there and put them in the outhouse. You know, it’ll take the edge off.”

Judy, in a warm coat and her favourite paisley long johns, opened the door of the cabin and quickly reached for the bucket of coals, maybe a bit too quick. She stumbled through the door landing on the night’s visitors, two young moose blocking the doorway.

“Hey you guys, what are you doing here? Esther, look at these two cuties.”

I tried to shoo our furry visitors off the porch while Judy reached for her camera and tried to step around our friends. It was no use.

“Those fellas won’t move until mama calls them. She’s probably out back in the poplars or along the shore, Judy. Use the kitchen door.”

So Judy, dressed in her retro underwear, carrying a bucket of hot coals, took a look at her destination and stepped onto the path only to find herself face-to-face with the cow moose’s tail. Mama made some threatening gestures and went to check on the kids. Judy galloped to the one-holer and slammed the door.

The cow stomped and snorted her way back to the outhouse where she took a couple of bites out of the door that didn’t lock from the inside. Judy screamed and scattered some coals on the intruding choppers at work. Finally, the moose squealed and shook her huge head.

“Hang on, Judy. She’ll leave. She’s got better things to do.”

I banged on some pots and stepped into the pathway. Suddenly tired of the game, the cow turned and eased into the shallows of the lake. She must have made a sound that I couldn’t hear because both of her yearlings scrambled to their feet and stumbled down the stairs to the beach trail in search of their mother.

Meanwhile, Judy had set the ‘biffy’ on fire, and, as reluctant as she was, stalked down to the lake to get the first pail of our bucket brigade.

Lucky for us, the coffee had perked to perfection, the brownies were set to bake and the open door of the woodstove hadn’t quite got around to setting the cabin on fire. With the exception of charcoal zeros around our butts, the lady’s lakeside bush retreat resumed indulgence in the comforts of our exceptional fall (not tall) tale.

Well Steve, one more for the moose memoirs, etched into our journals in hopes of finally topping the class in your annual contest and winning the prize.

Ah, there is a prize, isn’t there Steve?