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.
What a lovely sentiment. A cow was hit by a car and killed last year on a dirt road I often travel. We were able to witness its gradual deterioration (spared the smell, though), from obvious ravaging by large animals (the wily coyotes don’t let you catch them in the act), to being picked over by various birds, especially ravens and hawks. All that remains now are some very bleached bones, and a patch of globe mallow. We are all on that great mandala and I find it oddly reassuring that life will out.