What to do if you meet a moose.

It turns out changing your name is harder than I thought. For some reason, in my head, I had this image of being able to walk up to a counter at the National Name Changing Center, and saying “Hi, I’d like to change my name!”
I might give them my social security number or something, and then they would hand me an envelope with a new SS card, a driver’s license, and a passport, and voila!
Name changed.
But no. First of all, there are a ton of forms to fill out. Different offices to visit. Banks to call. Insurance policies to change. Checks to write (it doesn’t seem fair to charge someone for something so… necessary).
And, when you have three jobs, like I do, there are a lot of new tax forms to fill out.

Two of my jobs were easy, because I am there very regularly. But subbing at the elementary school means that I am only there when they need me- which is once or twice a month. I haven’t done it yet this year, and I knew I needed to go fill out new forms before I did. But I kept putting it off- partly because I just didn’t feel like it, and partly because the car hasn’t been running and I didn’t feel like walking to the school.

But, yesterday I decided it was The Day. I worked at the hotel, and when I got off I collected my first paycheck with my married name on it (I had to hunt for my name on the sign-off sheet for quite a while… I couldn’t figure out why I wasn’t there with all the other H’s!)
It wasn’t that cold outside… only -38. Hardly any wind. The sun was up. With all my layers of clothes on (and all the careful tucking I’d done!) I was actually a decent level of comfortable walking outside. I went by the radio station to say hello to J, and let him know what I was doing, then I set off for the school.

Here’s something you need to know: you can easily walk to the school from our house. You go down this short path through the woods beside our house, and come out on this open back road. Walk down that for a little while, and you come to the back of the school.

But, I was leaving from the radio station, and from there the most logical way to go was down the “real” road… and up a very steep hill, to the front of the school. I decided to do this, and take the back way home.

I set off, marching down the road in my big old boots that make so much noise, thinking about how heavy they make my feet and how walking up that huge, steep hill was not going to be fun with the extra weight. And then, there it was, rising up in front of me, much more intimidating when you are not driving in a car.

The road forks at this point… the right fork is for going up, to the school, and the left fork is for coming down. I pondered this for a moment. Neither road is very wide, and I wasn’t sure which one would be safest. It was 1:20, so no school buses would be coming by, but another car could. I was trying to remember what was proper, and I had decided that you are supposed to ride with traffic on a bicycle, and walk against it when you are on foot. Just as I set off, though, I noticed a path in the snow along the left side of the road, going up the hill… it was full of footprints, which led me to believe that that was the proper choice in this case. The problem was that the path was half snow, half ice. The footprints in it were super deep. The path was even steeper than the road. It looked like a one-way ticket to a broken leg.

I stood there, at the bottom of the road, for a good two minutes, weighing my options.  Deciding that I had less chance of dying from a broken leg than from getting hit by a car, I set off for the path.

Ten minutes later, huffing and puffing and feeling all accomplished like The Little Engine That Could, overheated and cold all at once, I arrived at the top. No broken legs, but some tired ankles and knees. I pulled off my gloves and my hat and huffed my way across the parking lot, hoping I didn’t like a drunk homeless person staggering around in front of an elementary school. Not a good impression to make.

I found the right office, filled out the right forms, shook the right hands, and set off for home. I tromped along the back road, which runs parallel to the road beside our house. There are several little trails through trees that connect the two roads, and most of them were fairly clear of snow. I held out for the path that came out right across from our house, though.

I made it all the way there, only to stop in my tracks. I hadn’t considered the possibility that that path wouldn’t be clear of snow. It was piled up, quite high. At least over my boots, I figured. I looked left, and right. Was it worth it to go back and walk down one of the clear paths? No, I decided. I could see the front door of my house from there! I was so close. I took a deep breath and took one step into the snow.

It did, in fact, go over my boots. And over my knees. But it still seemed more logical to go forward than backward. So I kept going.
It turns out that no amount of tucking can keep the snow out. It leaked in between the layers, sinking into my boots, making my feet all cold and wet and squishy… like when you spill an Icee into your tennis shoes (I’ve never actually done that, but I imagine it’s what it feels like).
I made it halfway when the snow got deeper. It was up quite far past my knees, and I actually considered for a moment that I might be trapped there forever. Going forward seemed dumb, but going backwards seemed impossible. Afraid that I would be there for the next two hours, until J got home, I looked around for some kind of magical frozen path that would allow me to walk on top of the snow… but there was none.

It was then that I saw the tracks. Moose tracks, I thought, but I wasn’t sure. All I knew was that they were big, and they went right in front of me. I had a flashback to the very large moose we encountered in the middle of the road a week ago… and the thought that she was so big she could probably just breathe on me and I would die.
Frantically, I searched my brain for what to do if I met a moose in the woods.
I knew that I had heard lots of instructions on what to do if meeting random wildlife… play dead if you see a bear. Don’t make eye contact with lions. Back away slowly from antelopes. (I don’t know if that one is real).

But I have never heard what to do if you see a moose. I don’t know if moose attack people if they get in their way. I don’t know if there is a “Killed by Moose” section in Heaven… and I don’t know what J would tell my parents if something like that would happen.
“Um, Mr. Jim… your daughter was killed by a moose.”
My dad would laugh and think it was a funny joke. Then, when he saw my body and realized it was real, he would say, “Lacey would get killed by a moose. She always had a knack for doing silly things.”

It was such a pity, really, that I would die this way, after surviving climbing that hill without getting hit by a car or breaking a leg or anything.

All of this flashed through my mind in about two seconds. After I finished mourning myself, though, I figured I should probably get out of there before the moose came back and made it all come true. I charged forward, and made it to the end of the snow pile… and encountered my next obstacle.

When the snow plow goes down our road, it piles ALL of the snow from our road along the side… to the spot where I was trying to escape from the moose. The over-the-knee pile of snow turned into a to-the-chest hill of snow. Walking through it didn’t work (I tried.) Once again, I considered turning back… but then I realized that doubles the chances of the moose coming back and killing me.

So, I launched myself forward, landed on the top of the hill on my stomach, and rolled down the other side. I landed on our street, covered in snow, breathing hard, and rushed for the door, watching in front of me for the shadow of a moose chasing me down. I slammed the door shut, ripped of my gloves, and dove for the computer, immediately Googling “what to do if you meet a moose.”

So, I found this website. And it gives a list of things to do if you encounter a moose.
Here you go:

  • Move slowly, being careful not to make any quick or sudden movements.
  • Never get between a cow and its calf.
  • You are in potential danger if you are closer than 50 feet.
  • If you see its ears go back or the hair on its hump stand up, it is angry and may attack–and can kick lethally with both front and rear feet.
  • Never throw anything at a moose (unlike bear encounters).
  • Keep your dog under control as it will only anger the moose, which will then chase it.
  • If it charges you, get behind something large, such as a tree or boulder.
  • If it knocks you to the ground, protect your head, stay still, and play dead.
  • If all else fails–RUN. Some say that a moose is the only wild mammal or predator that you can run away from.
  • And lastly, following a harrowing moose encounter, change your underwear.

So many instructions. I feel like I should print the list and keep it in the pocket of my snow pants. Or just not take un-plowed paths ever again.

At the end of the list, though, it said “with moose, be prepared for anything.” In other words, “these tips may not work.” Yikes.
Then the website had a video of a man being trampled by a moose. It said “this video is not for the faint of heart. But I watched it anyway. Then, when I recovered from my panic attack, I looked out all of our windows to make sure my moose hadn’t followed me. I locked the door, in case it was a highly evolved moose with opposable thumbs.

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One comment

  1. I have officially made a mental note of all of these things, so that I too will know what to do if I meet a moose :)) you both are on my prayer list, and I literally pray you guys up by name 🙂 keep the wonderful blog writing coming, cause I love them!!

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