This is the trail I walk along the highway when I go to get the mail. I know there’s a lot of green in the picture, but note the thick patch on the ground in the center of the image. It is a unique clump of green. Let’s get closer.
It’s fireweed. Nothing unique about fireweed, really; what’s unique here is the thick patch of it. It stands out from the surrounding brush.
So what’s the deal–why is there a clump of fireweed right here?
Three years ago or so, a moose was harvested here. See the bones that remain?
I came upon it–on foot, of course–just after it was harvested. It startled me, and the instant I determined what it was, I scanned the scene for a bear and made for the opposite side of the road. It’s nice to know that’s instinctive, but it wasn’t a bear kill or cache–not that a bear couldn’t happen along and claim it.
At first, I thought maybe someone shot it, which I hope is illegal, being on a highway. Then I wondered if maybe the moose had been hit on the road. The state arranges for the harvest of road-killed moose whenever possible. That, in the end, is my best guess as to why a moose carcass was left just there on the roadside trail.
Most of it, save hide and bones, disappeared quickly, though a nasty smell lingered for months. And now we have this lovely dense patch of fireweed where once there was a moose carcass. Just wait till it blooms; it’s going to be gorgeous!
There’s a circle-of-life theme here that pleases me. I’m sure my carcass won’t be allowed to rot by the side of the road, but I wouldn’t mind my body giving rise to a thick patch of fireweed. Seems like a nice thing to leave behind.