Updated: Oct 10
By May Davidson
There are times in your life when you are in desperate need of something to uplift your spirits and it actually appears. We had such an experience one memorable October evening at our farm in Round Pound. Our apple trees, only twenty feet from our house, were more loaded with fruit than we had ever seen them. Big, bright red McIntosh apples hung from every branch.
Late on a dimly moonlit night, Jim glanced outside and saw long white legs slowly moving under the apple trees. He watched as they progressed and saw that they were attached to a huge, dark body. He woke me so we could discover what this creature might be together. When it stepped into the light from our house, we saw that it was a magnificent bull moose. His rear legs were white from just above the hocks to his hooves, and his front legs were white up to the back of his knees.
He reached into the branches of the tree to snap off an apple, then lowered his great antlered head to chew his prize. He took about four crunches, light steam clouds escaping from his mouth with each swing of his jaws. He was so close we could see how his square upper lip hung over the lower one, giving him the moose’s signature hooked nose.
The moose’s motion was slow and methodical. We watched him with awe and delight as he completed the round of the three trees, plucking apples from his stately height.
When he began to leave the trees, we were sure he would go back to the woods. He went only a few steps before folding his long legs to make a smooth descent to the grassy lawn near our big windows.
He lay facing the woods with his back to us and began chewing his cud. His long ears and beautiful palmed rack wiggled as he chewed. Sometimes he turned his head in profile so we could see his wondrous triangular beard also swaying. We continued observing him from the darkened room, solemnly inspired by the majesty of his presence, by his gift of primal beauty, by his fearlessness to lay so close to us. There was an urge to take a picture of the moose so we could believe he had actually been there, but we could not bear to violate his presence with a bright flash. This appearance was too precious.
We went back to bed feeling like our hours observing the splendor of this great being and his apparent trust were an omen of joy for us. He had come to show us a beauty seldom seen and experienced in the way that we just had, delivering a special message for us.
That sense stayed with us all the next day. We went outside to see the area where the moose’s big body had melted the frost under it. We yearned for him to come again, but did not expect it. Still, we watched until late the next night and were exultant to see him under the apple trees again, gently pulling the fruit he so enjoyed.
Once more, he lay down facing the woods in nearly the same spot on the lawn and began chewing his cud. Several hours later we left the bed again to see him still there. By this time his massive head was drooping with sleep, and we wondered how he held up the great weight of his antlers when in repose. A few moments later he swung his head toward his shoulder and, although it was hard to be certain, he seemed to rest his head while propping the tip of an antler on the ground.
The moose brought us this bounty of joy each night for several more nights performing in the same way—munching apples, then lying down to enjoy his cud, and taking a long nap. When he had eaten all the hanging fruit he could reach in the tree, he began nuzzling up those that had fallen to the ground. The valuable lesson seemed to be even when you have consumed the best, enjoy the rest. He also never ate more than he needed during a visit. We looked forward to staying up a few hours each night to watch this splendid being, to absorb and wonder at the magic of his presence. Every morning at daylight the moose would rise and follow his same path through the nearby pines, halfway around the farm pond, and then disappear into the thick growth of fir trees.
One night about a week later, he didn’t visit the apple trees and we mourned, although we always knew that time would come. Then, while seated at our large window having breakfast, the moose ambled along his trail in the bright of day and ate a few apples from the ground. Several of his poses proved good for pictures, and we happily used the camera through the windows. When he was finished eating, he looked gently at us with a full forward gaze, then slowly turned and walked a different path to the back of the pond. He took a long time to travel the back pasture and head northward into the big woods.
The moose seemed to convey to us he was moving on. Even though there were still plenty of apples, he had spent enough time here with us and now must go. He had accomplished his mission to bring us a gift of beauty and faith. Our thoughts were filled with emotion and thankfulness for this mystical experience provided by the majesty and dignity of this great king of the forest. It was akin to a religious presentation and will be with us always.
As he glided into the big pines we whispered an entreaty for his enduring safety, and we thought of the words that, in lore, are believed the moose imparts: “Help me to honor the gifts I can give and recognize my worthiness as long as I live.”
May Davidson, author of the memoir Whatever it Takes, was born and raised in Maine. Over the years, they worked at a variety of jobs, including owning a chicken farm, raising sheep, owning a sawmill, and crossing the country as long-haul truckers. She decades she also wrote a column in The Lincoln County News. Many of the essays in her new book, Salt and Roses, first appeared in that newspaper.