The beautiful January full moon shining on deep snow right now is a Wolf Moon. Which reminds me of a story.
Many years ago when we first moved to this area, a couple guys from the Department of Fish and Wildlife came to our cabin wanting permission to cross our property for two things. One, they wanted to count returning Coho salmon in the creek that bisected our place. My father gave them permission and told them he’d have the salmon stacked neatly to make their counting easier. They weren’t sure if he was joking or not.
They also wanted permission because they were tracking a pair of tagged, denning wolves on our property, on the ridge. They asked us to not talk about the wolves to anyone because at that point in time they were still endangered and it was rare to have them in the area.
A few weeks later I was working on our water wheel down by the creek. I looked up and here was a wolf watching me. He had used the log foot bridge to cross the creek and stood only a few feet from me, just watching. And yes, I know the difference between a coyote and a wolf, and domesticated dog breeds and wolves. I knew exactly what I was looking at.
This guy was huge. And just standing there calmly watching me. I stood up, and he simply turned and went back over the bridge and into the woods.
That was the moment when I not only knew the definition of a word, but felt the definition of ‘awe’.
I’ll never have a moment like that again, looking into the eyes of a wild animal for a stretch of time with only wonder and no fear.
Granted, after the wolf left, I ran for the cabin yelling for our little toy fox terrier to get inside. Jello would have been a snack-size treat for the wolf. But before reality hit, there was awe.
I know that pair of wolves are long gone, though I don’t know whatever happened to them. But I hope their spirits are out there on the ridge under the winter moon.