Close Encounters of the Moose Kind

I am having computer issues and will not be able to add photos to my posts until the computer is fixed. This should be your reminder to always back up your files faithfully. Learn from my mistake. In the meantime, this is my first installment from my stay at Caribou Ranch.

Awaking on the morning of September 15, I am ecstatic to be headed off for my week as the artist-in-residence at Caribou Ranch Open Space. The weather is perfect, and I have only to pack a few last things before heading up Boulder Canyon and a week in my kind of paradise.

By 10:00 a.m. I am unpacked and sitting at my picnic table ready to make a list of priorities for the week. I am soaking up the absolute quiet when I see a large bird circling above me. Grabbing my binoculars, I am treated to the sight of a golden eagle. Can I believe my eyes? This is why I’m here, hoping to come home with photos of wildlife as fodder for my art. I take this as a good sign.

By the end of the day, I have added moose and rabbit to my list of captured critters. I am so excited I can hardly believe my luck. In retrospect, the moose photos from that first day turn out to be the worst of the whole week.

I enjoy a simple dinner at the picnic table as the rabbit, I’ve started calling Peter, nibbles near by. The total quiet reminds me that it is just me and the animals out here. I can’t remember a time when I have been this far removed from any humans before.

Closing the shutters, pulling the curtains, and latching the doors on the converted cozy cabin space in the DeLonde Barn is more of a safeguard against any stray two-footed creatures than the four-footed ones. I quickly crawl into my sleeping bag and turn out the lights. I feel more at ease in the dark listening to the wind in the aspens.

Sunday the sixteenth of September greets me with a welcome briskness I haven’t felt in a long time. I feel like this has been the longest summer—I know it has been one of the hottest. With a travel mug of hot coffee and a warm hat against the chill, I step out the front door of the cabin to the sight of a bull moose making moves on a cow. I grab my camera and walking stick/monopod, hoping to get photos of the two. After a while, they move to the east toward the beaver ponds. Thinking I might be able to get shots of them by the water, I head to the picnic table that overlooks the ponds.

A noise grabs my attention, and I spot another moose, this time a cow or maybe two cows. Another couple of photos and I head back to the ponds. I can’t believe my luck! My snug winter hat muffles my hearing, so off it comes. I want to hear where the bull and cow are. They should be in front of me somewhere.

To my surprise, I hear a noise behind me. My first thought is that hikers have come in already. As I turn to look, I’m shocked to see that the cow has followed me from the aspens—with calf in tow—just on the other side of the low, split-rail fence. I’m trying to back away and still get photos, thinking the whole time that I shouldn’t be this close . . . but she is the one that snuck up on me. I back into the fence, finally far enough away to get them in the viewfinder. I certainly didn’t need to spend money on 70–300 zoom lens for this encounter!

I could have gone home right then and been totally content. But, happily, that was just the first 24 hours. Soon there would be more adventures and encounters.

To be continued, hopefully with some of the amazing photos I took of my week in paradise.