Full Moon, January 2023
Three days after Christmas the historic storm traveling across the country brought snow and wind to Santa Fe. It included a snow squall moving through the streets causing near zero visibility, and occasionally making a low and muffled roar. Looking out my loft window I could see swirling white with faint traces of the school buildings across the way. The squall lasted less than an hour. The next day the Sangre de Cristo mountains to the north were completely white from snow. Banks of narrow silver clouds passed across their summits.
At the Santa Fe Ski Basin that same day a moose was seen trotting along the winding road up to the basin. He was named Marty by the locals and media. This was not the only sighting of Marty at the basin. He was also seen on a mountain slope above the road. Marty is a young bull moose with a shining black coat, estimated to weigh 1,000 lbs. and probably come down from Colorado where moose were re-introduced years ago. His sighting in Santa Fe is the furthest south for a moose in New Mexico, making him a celebrity in the area. Other wildlife is present in and around Santa Fe, including black bears in the fall and occasionally a mountain lion walking an arroyo behind fenced backyards. Bobcats appear regularly as do coyotes, owls and hawks.
But it is this winter that has brought Marty.
With the devastating fires of the past summer and the subsequent floods, the locals have found a relief and a prophetic sign in the form of the moose. Some take it as a sign of something good to come, others of something wrong. Later today a radio station reported that the moose at the ski basin was not Marty, but a second moose. However, for most people that bull moose they may have seen in person or on social media is Marty, carrying whatever meaning they give him.
As a child, my uncle in Minnesota told me stories about hunting moose. I asked an acquaintance at the recreation center about Marty. Robb is a long-time hunter and he told me it was illegal in New Mexico to hunt moose. I wondered though if he could be killed, like the protected Mexican gray wolves in parts of the state who regardless of such protection have been hunted illegally. “No,” he said, “it’s about ethical hunting.”
From my backyard I can see the mountains and the remaining Christmas lights along my neighbors’ roofs. There are fewer birds visiting though house sparrows and finches and spotted towhees come often to the bird feeder. Melted snow has made a top layer of mud in the backyard. Maddie has dug a design of various holes through the middle of it. The floors in the house also now have their own designs of dried paw prints from front door to dog door to water bowl to up the staircase. On the bed upstairs my grandmother’s quilt has been patterned where Maddie likes to circle a few times and lay down to sleep.
With more snow and rain predicted, I’ve not tried to wipe them away.