A few months ago, at the beginning of May, I was savoring my last few months as a student and resident of New Brunswick. I spent many weeks living on my partner’s family farm and our evenings consisted of walks through the nearly untouched hills and watching herds of deer that called the old corn fields home bound away from us with every step. I knew that it was time to move onwards to a new chapter in life and although I did not want to leave, I was content with how my three years had transpired. However, there was one part of me that remained unsettled, a near vision and deep yearning that haunted those last few weeks - I had yet to see a moose.
Before moving 5000 kilometers from my hometown and family three years prior, I decided that the only thing I wanted out of my experience was to see a moose. I talked to friends about my moose non stop; in fact, one of the first conversations that my partner Tyler and I had was how I was going to hire him to hijack a bus and drive me around until we saw the incredible creature. But almost three years in New Brunswick had passed, and still, no moose.
By this point, finding the moose was about more than just finding an animal. My time in New Brunswick, although life changing and incredible, was not as I thought it would be. All the other plans and expectations that I had for my university life shattered and crumbled somewhere along the path. Seeing a moose was the one goal that I was able to hold onto throughout the years, the one possibility that remained. However, time was drawing to an end. My apartment was vacant and I only had 6 days left before I packed up for good - yet still the creature remained elusive.
She found me when I finally stopped looking.
The sun was streaming through my car windows as I drove alongside the Saint John River with my love in the front seat and my father (who had flown cross country for my graduation) in behind. The river had recently flooded and its force created marshland from what was previously rich farmland and provincial park. My dad was reading quietly and I was lost in my thoughts as my love tapped patterns on my thigh that matched the rhythm of the country radio station. I was taking everything in, creating mental photographs so that I would not forget the sights of my beloved province.
Suddenly, I heard both Tyler and my father cry out in jumbled words. When I realized that they were excitedly trying to communicate to me that we had just passed a moose, I stopped breathing for a moment. I turned my car around as fast as I could and slowly went back the way I came. Time stood still as I saw her - my moose, lying down at the side of the road.
She rose slowly when she saw us, and I turned off the ignition not daring to make a sound. She was a young moose, not quite a calf but not yet a full grown cow either. As she flexed her muscles and stood fully erect at about four feet, I feared she would run away but instead she just turned towards me. Despite her size, she was anything but intimidating - her ears twitched towards me as her eyes met mine as if she was expecting me. She was the most beautiful creature I had ever seen.
Our silence was interrupted by my father throwing an apple that he found rolling on the car floor towards my moose. At first I was terrified she’d bolt at the sudden movement, but when the fruit rolled to the edge of the road just out of reach of her comfort zone, I decided I needed to meet my moose face to face.
Slowly I got out of the car, whispering to my companions to signal if they saw momma or daddy moose heading my way. With my head lowered and hands exposed, I started walking towards her. With every step I took I feared she would bolt but she calmly stood her ground. As I lowered myself to the ground our eyes met once again. I tossed the apple towards her but she showed little interest in anything but holding my gaze. There was no fear between the two of us, nor was there any pride. Neither of us was hunting nor being hunted, as is so often the case between man and moose, and so we simply communicated through spirit - just as man and creature have been doing for thousands of years. After what seemed like forever, we both turned our backs simultaneously and went our separate ways.
My eyes filled with tears as I got back in the car, and my heart finally felt at peace. I no longer felt hesitant about moving on to the next chapter, but instead felt free to move forward. The moose had settled the storm rooted in me, for I no longer felt as though I was leaving incomplete. Without saying a word, she reminded me that the wind will change directions and I will lose my footing now and again but that sometimes its the simplest desires are the ones that mean the most.