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Nisqually Barn Door

Patrick Dixon

Cassandra Rankin

Good Morning Rooster and a Moose in the Barnyard A little moose can cause a big stir. Which is why we watch closely for them here on our barnyard. They’re an everyday way of life here in Alaska, and after living here a while and getting used to the lumbering brown creatures that mosey the roadways and backyards, you could almost quit paying attention. Except really, you can’t. Because they’re huge. And they’re powerful. And they’re moose! So you just put them into the file of your heart that’s full up with aurora borealis, non-stop summer sunlight, soaring eagles, panoramic mountain ranges… all the reasons you came to Alaska, all the things that make you stay. The moose just blend in. But when you have a pony that is deathly afraid of moose, you can’t help but pay attention to them. Our pony Beau can sense a moose a quarter mile away. His sweet little ears will prick and he’ll start to prance his acre. Here on our farm, we quit relying on our dogs to tell us when a moose is near. We look to Beau. So this morning in the kitchen after waking, when I do what I always do—stand at the window and survey the barnyard, take in the half-done shed we put up before snowfall last year, note how badly I need to grab the kids and a jug of stain and give our little barn a facelift, wait for the water to boil for my tea—I can tell right away there’s a moose nearby. Beau’s head is high, his ears are up and he’s

hovering along the fence line that separates him from the miniature horses. He’s drawing near to his little mares for safety. They’re oblivious to him and the moose, and they stand sleepy, each with a back leg bent in relaxed dozing horse pose. Beau starts to prance, and when I focus my eye through the trees, I quickly find gangly dark legs moving slowly across the snow. How big is this one? Is it alone? Moose cows and their calves travel together. If there’s one, most times there’s two. Just one that I can see for now though, and it’s lumbering slowly toward Beau’s fence line, munching on brush along the way. I stand there at the window in my husband’s baggy gym shorts and a t-shirt, hoping this scenario doesn’t involve me going out into the cold morning. Yawn. Mosey on moose. The teapot starts to hiss a little and then I see a second set of legs. Human this time. The neighbor boy has taken up his jogging routine again, using the circle drive across the road as his track. Every spring he dons ankle weights and jogs rounds. He’s walking now, saving the jog for the back part of the drive. I can see him turn his head toward the moose. Good. He knows it’s there. Moose are considered more dangerous than bear here in Alaska. Imagine a cute gangly creature that fiercely protects their young, a thousand pounds, long legs that start at shoulders of pure muscle and end with sharp hooves. Alaskans have seen them stomp. We know to stay clear of them. And so does our pony Beau. Most times they’re pretty receptive to a skedaddle call or a bang on a fry pan with a wooden spoon, and usually they’ll trudge off in search of an alder bush that’s not so noisy up the road. Not all the time though. We’ve had a mama and a calf claim our neighborhood for their own more than one winter. As my water starts to gurgle in the pot, I’m hoping this one is of the more obedient types. I hate to leave the warmth of my warm morning house; alas, this moose isn’t moving along and I can see Beau’s getting himself worked up into a lather, dancing around and getting the minis worked up now too. They can’t see the moose from their angle but they know something’s up. Their little ears are perked and their mare manes are tossing. I straighten my cowboy boots by the door, the ones that feel like slippers on my feet, and put on a big warm coat. If it were later in the day I might change out of what I slept in, but as I pull up my boots I decide that the neighbor boy’s just gonna have to see my fat knees. I’m not changing clothes to go chase off a moose. Our warm winter has it feeling more like April

Cirque, Vol. 7 No. 1  

A Literary Journal for the North Pacific Rim

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