observed by Diane » photo journal for those who enjoy vignettes of an ordinary life

A Previous Northern Experience

After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.” — Philip Pullman

Living north, beyond the 56th parallel, going for walks takes on different meaning. The sky rich azure blue as it is when the winter sun bathes the dormant, snow-covered fields. The air crisp as it is when the temperature is below 20 degrees Celsius. The dogs and I trudge to the end of our field entering the boreal forest through well worn game trails. Trails kept firmly padded by an ecosystem of small and large mammals: deer, moose, elk as well as coyotes, hare, and their prey. Ravens scold us, or perhaps they warn us, as we encroach upon their territory. And then, one day, in the silence of the forest a cow moose and her calf appear to my right. She knew we were coming but chose not to flee; instead to stand her ground to protect her calf. Too late, one of the dogs went in for the chase, barking with the approach, coming to a halt as the cow harumphed and stomped her deadly front hooves. No calling would bring the dog back. I slunk in, knowing the danger, in an attempt to collar the dog and pull her away. Fearing she was being attacked, the cow turned sideways, split her hind legs gushing her putrid urine — a final sign of marking her territory and impending charge. With a guttural huff and a leap into a bluff charge, she made her final warning, striking violently ahead of her. Enough time for me to collar the dog and back our way from the immense creature and her offspring. Feeling relieved to be safe,  yet in awe at what we just experienced, we made our way silently back out of the forest toward home.

The brave one

= = =

As if worlds away, this recollection could never be repeated here on the West Coast of Vancouver Island.

I finished my socks. Had a few struggles along the way but I love the end result. I’m wearing them as I type. For the knitters, check out my notes on Ravelry. There’s nothing quite as cozy as handmade socks (unless it’s handmade sweaters).

So tell me a story. Any story. I can hardly wait to read about it.

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Lisa Gordon - January 30, 2017 - 4:18 pm

Oh, Diane, how scary for you. I probably would have just froze.

I have a wildlife tale from this past weekend.
We have a “critter cam” out in the yard. It’s lots of fun to see “who” stops by to visit and to empty the bird feeders. We are used to seeing deer (many), and we have a couple of resident turkeys, a skunk or two, an occasional fox, and now I can add to that list…a very large black bear. Definitely not your usual visitor, and a bit unnerving since he was only about 25 yards from the house when the camera captured him.

I love your socks. They have a lace-like pattern that is just beautiful.

Have a wonderful week, my friend!

Juliann - January 31, 2017 - 5:27 am

We have quite a bit of yard that is not landscaped and manicured (a bit unusual in my neighborhood). One evening last summer, I went to clean up the kitchen and looked out the back window to see 5 deer in the yard. Three were quite young so I’m guessing it was a family. They stayed to nibble with huckleberries for quite awhile and I just stood there and watched. It was quite a gift.

Carol - February 1, 2017 - 10:03 am

Love your writing Diane and always look forward to my next email from you!!

Jessie - February 2, 2017 - 11:40 am


The last time I saw I moose I was also feeling too close for comfort. I was bird hunting with my mom and brother in Montana. Fields of wheat stubble all around us lined with occasional hedgerows one of which we were hunting down. The wind was crazy insane that day where we had to shout to one another to be heard. I was slightly in front of my brother when far closer than I’d like a moose stood, up, up, up (dang they have long legs!) and looked at me while I did a lot of yelling MOOSE and back pedaling to stand beside my brother. It was only a moment or so that he looked at us before bolting out the other side of the hedgerow where my mom was. Not having heard our calls of “moose” over the noise of the wind she was startled and let out her own string of “MOOSE MOOSE MOOSE!!!” Fortunately the dogs had bird scent in their nose and weren’t at all interested in chasing a moose when there were pheasants all around. And, if memory serves I’m pretty sure we got the last birds to fill our limits for the day right as we got to the end of the hedgerow. Windy days in the field are exciting!!! 🙂

susan - February 8, 2017 - 7:08 am

Woah!!! Your description had me holding my breath until the end! So glad there was a happy ending to your story. I’ve been reading about snowmobilers chasing the poor moose and it makes me very angry. This poor moose was just being a good mama. Beautiful wintry images and your knitting always gives me a cozy warm feeling. You choose the most delicious color yarn!

Jennifer Connell - February 17, 2017 - 10:12 am

The last time I visited I was short of time and I didn’t get to leave a story behind. Today I will add one.
I had a very similar experience– although with a much more benign creature. A few winters ago, I was out shovelling the driveway with the dogs. Suddenly I saw a creature running toward me. In the seconds before I began to corral my dogs, I decided it must be a really big dog on the attack. At the same moment, the dogs saw the creature too and they went crazy. Barking furiously they flew at the animal, and I saw for the first time, it was a deer. On seeing the dogs, the terrified deer screeched to a halt and that’s when I saw for the doe was wounded. No doubt it had been hit by a car on the adjacent highway. The poor thing had run from one horror to another!
The deer turned and ran into my neighbours yard. Good, I thought. My neighbour’s yard is fenced. Maybe the doe will be trapped and I can get it some help.
Sadly it was not to be. Even with the leg wound, the doe hopped the 6 foot fence and disappeared into a wooded area. There she would be easy pray for the coyotes we often hear at night.
What haunts me about this story is the fact that the deer, who could have run in any number of directions, ran right to me. How I wish I could have helped her better.

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