Our recent trip to Minnesota’s North Shore was an opportunity to reflect, not only on the past, but also on what the future might hold. We always do a fair amount of centering when we visit, and, like others who come to this magical place, return home reinvigorated and refreshed. This time around, though, there were many signs to associate with deeper introspection.
“Regard heaven as your father, earth as your mother, and all things as your brothers and sisters.” – Native American Proverb
Wherever we are in their habitat, we’re on the lookout for moose. As luck would have it, our only sighting of a bull moose has been as we circled a cloverleaf on a freeway north of Anchorage, Alaska, toward the Mat-Su Valley and Denali beyond. On previous visits to the North Shore, a young cow ambled out in front of us by a marshy area west of Greenwood Lake, but traditional moose viewing locations along the Gunflint Trail had yielded only evidence that they’d been there previously. (Not that Pete is ever reluctant to take a poop photo. 🙂 )
It is said that when the student is ready, the teacher will appear. After researching traditional lore about the appearance of animals and signs, I am comforted that our encounters in the wild acknowledged our most recent emotional journey together (the loss of Pete’s mother). These encounters also affirmed that this is a time of transition and shift for us as we figure out what’s next.
Our friend, Hinda Abrahamson, after hearing all the stories from this trip, provided us with information from her teacher, Grandmaster Professor Thomas Lin-Yun, on what we should know about the moose: When a moose appears, it is considered a special sacred gift – a unique and sacred energy is opened; [the moose is a] symbol of primal feminine energies and the magic of life and death. How fitting, then, after losing Pete’s mother, that our first wildlife encounter on this trip should be with moose.
On our first day up the Gunflint Trail, we visited the newly-opened Chik-Wauk Museum, which is a wonderful multi-sensory experience of this historically-rich region. As we headed back down the Trail, I found myself craving a Trail Center Lodge burger. Within ten minutes, though, we knew our highly-anticipated lunch was going to be delayed! This mama moose and her baby were munching contentedly off the museum driveway, and we quickly halted to watch. Our own lunch could wait!
Other cultures have used the moose as a symbol for traits as diverse as headstrong, unstoppable, longevity, value, and integrity. The Manataka site shows characteristics of the moose which personify lessons and guidance in an uncanny synchronicity with our particular circumstances:
Moose calves are born with their eyes open. Those who follow the moose medicine see life situations with clarity and can see into the beyond.
We continued down the Gunflint Trail to encounter another pair in the area of aptly-named Extortion Lake. Again, another correlation: Whenever someone suffers such as Pete’s mother had from cancer, the disease extorts from the sufferer and loved ones by inflicting unspeakable pain, and the subsequent relinquishment, while perhaps made willingly by all concerned, is attended by duress. It is an exchange made only to achieve an end.
Despite their great size, moose can camouflage itself very well and can move silently and quickly through its terrain. This teaches us ways to become invisible when necessary and not allow our powerful presence to become overbearing to others.
Invisibility ensures personal safety as well as inferring sensitivity to the effect we have on others. Remaining unseen, or retreating into the woods to fight another, later day is a judicious tactic that spares and restores energy.
The appearance of the moose is both awkward and graceful at the same time. These traits are translated in human terms as instruction in ways to be gracious and relaxed in our dealings with others.
We were most assuredly not relaxed as we began our trip, but as the miles passed and we drew further north, we literally left things where they were. When wounds are raw, any encounter can be excruciating. Time spent just being, rather than doing, allows for healing to begin and more harmonious encounters once the process has been established.
Tips for Trip Success
Book Your Flight
Find an inexpensive flight by using CheapOAir, a favorite of ours because it regularly returns less expensive flight options from a variety of airlines.
Book Your Hotel or Special Accommodation
We are big fans of Booking.com. We like their review system and photos. If we want to see more reviews and additional booking options, we go to TripAdvisor.
You Need Travel Insurance!
Good travel insurance means having total peace of mind. Travel insurance protects you when your medical insurance often will not and better than what you get from your credit card. It will provide comprehensive coverage should you need medical treatment or return to the United States, compensation for trip interruption, baggage loss, and other situations.
PassingThru is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
It was wonderful to see so many moose. We’ve been trying to see moose for three years. Now the mother load.
Hi Betsy and Pete .. you certainly are reflecting and getting the benefit of that time to take stock, relax with nature, see and learn from what’s around you .. especially losing your mother, Pete, – the wonders of being with a moose.
The museum video was great .. a real look inside & I loved some of their ideas and the naturalness of the whole thing came over ..
Isn’t it wonderful to be able to sit and just watch wildlife quietly minding its own business, while we mind ours .. your photos help us within the post …
One day I’d like to find out more about the Indians, their cultures and way of life .. something I know so little about .. Your lessons that they teach you and us .. the way they touched you .. and reminded you of recent times and pain, but yet let you reach out …
The camouflage as a way of not being overbearing to others .. is such an amazing insight .. thanks Betsy ..
This post is amazing .. and I’m so pleased you were both able to gain some comfort and be able to move forward with the next phase of your life together ..
All the best and thinking of you .. Hilary
Betsy Wuebker says
Hi Hilary – Thank you so much. It all really has been illuminating and corroborating. The museum was fascinating, and opened the door to a closeness with the ancients whose descendants still live in the area, too. More on that in the next post or two. All in all, this was a wonderful trip in many different ways.
I did not know that moose calves are born with their eyes open. Interesting. My heart goes out to you and Pete on your healing journey. It really is a process, isn’t it? One that you just have to allow to unfold and take you along; well reflected by your journey to the North Shore and the encounters you’ve had. This whole journey, despite the rawness you must have been feeling, feels peaceful when I read about it. I admire people who continue to look for the meaning beyond what the eye can see.
Betsy Wuebker says
Hi Davina – Yes, a fascinating reverence and interpretation of animal characteristics. What is striking is that the meanings are so similar across diverse cultures, too. When we were at the museum we were impressed by a bio of a woman who lived for years off the Gunflint Trail in the wilderness. She was quite a character, a world traveler, chopped all her own wood, no running water, etc. She said living out in the wilderness taught her right away: Sometimes Mother Nature has other ideas about what you are going to do this day. It’s nice to have the opportunity to be in wilder places to let Her decide.
Wow, beautiful. God created some fantastic looking creatures and habitat to put them in.
We took a trip through Canada a few years ago but did not see any Moose. I’m always fascinated to watch white tale deer around our house. There legs and bones are so tiny and fragile. Yet they seem to sail through the air when running with such grace and strength.
Betsy Wuebker says
Hi Debbie – Yes, this is a spectacular area in so many ways. It has its own quiet, steady, unassuming grandeur. And the grace that you describe is such a gift in so many animals, even those as seemingly ungainly as moose. They’re very fast runners and strong swimmers. Thank you.
Hi Betsy .. I was sort of looking at a documentary on the Drakensberg in South Africa (Dragons Range – I ‘d never realised it was called Dragons!) .. anyway the eland – large antelope .. who have adapted to live higher and higher on the Drakensberg.
The San Bushmen .. highly revered them for their strength & they feature on the cave walls in wall paintings .. so per Davina’s interaction .. the similarities of meanings is surprising ..
Enjoy the weekend .. Hilary
Betsy Wuebker says
Wow, Hilary, fascinating! I think the more we look, the more we can find similarities in how the ancients revered all members of the great Kingdom. We risk losing a bit of that connectivity in each civilized iteration. Sharing this wisdom will keep it alive in the future. Thank you.
It sounds like you’re healing, slowly.
Whenever I read your posts I think that you are so wonderfully self-aware.
Betsy Wuebker says
Hi Vered – Thank you. It’s been increasingly more interesting to me how awareness or mindfulness (or whatever you want to call it) can bring peaceful acceptance, even through a rough patch. I often look to those who are further along this pathway for insights.
Betsy you write so well and Pete your pictures are just so amazing. I feel very blessed to have read this piece today.
I find the words of the old teachers and Nature to be so inspiring to my journey and that we are all on the same journey with so many lovely diverse variations is just divine indeed.
Library Girl went to work for the geographic society in Alaska for the summer because no teaching opportunities/library work was forthcoming in 7 months of finishing her degree. She was required to feed her self and so laid out a wee garden to add to her dandelion soup, wild mushrooms, wild strawberries, spruce tip syrup and greens foraging expeditions. As the peas were beginning to bloom, a family of moose discovered her efforts…LG was nearly in tears when she called to tell us of the devastation to her efforts and to wonder how she would make it. We decided that it must be a good sign…
Well, it was….moose poop and all…she just got a Media Specialist job states side…and we are going to help her set up the Library this weekend – taking an ice chest full of the garden delights from here..
a deeper more meaningful future than just getting by…
I look forward to your future sharing as you have tweaked the appetite of anticipation with this fine post. Thank you
Betsy Wuebker says
Hi Patricia – What a great story about your daughter! And it’s true, our wild and wooly friends can wreak havoc when we attempt to impose a bit of civilization. I often rued that all I was doing in my previous garden was providing a delicious buffet for the deer, and now Pete feels like Mr. McGregor shooing the rabbits. The moose message LG received was definitely a great harbinger, too. What a wonderful opportunity to spend the summer in Alaska and then have a job ready. Thank you for your kind comments.
Jannie Funster says
The last time we ever saw our maternal grandmother’s home my sister and I saw a moose and her foal in the barn field down the way. A month later the home burned down. Luckily no one was hurt. That was about 6 years ago, and I knew even that night it was some kind of sign to see the moose — my first time ever to see any (that I remember). I later knew it symbolized my relationship of love with Gram and that we are all loved and cared for, even when we feel so sad and alone.
This must be a very difficult time for you both.
Hugs and love,
Betsy Wuebker says
Hi Jannie – So fascinating that you “saw” the moose as a sign of something to come, and how you took comfort in that, too. It’s amazing what we can take in if we are aware. Thank you.