Moose As Muse

I realized that a moose would become my muse on a hike in Glacier National Park years ago. The twelve-mile hike was exhausting, I was not properly prepared, and I considered turning back at more than one point in the trail. Then it happened. While taking a short break to listen to our guide, he gestured for all of us to gather close to him as he pointed at the reason why.

He’d climbed the steep bank below us, so we were unaware of his approach. It was a magnificent, young bull moose sporting a still-growing set of antlers (it was early June). Stepping on to the path we’d just traversed, he cast an indifferent glance in our direction before continuing up the slope. That chance encounter made the otherwise tortuous hike worth every step and prompted me to think about how a moose could be a muse.

I think that young, bull moose presented himself to me for a reason that day. Sure, I wasn’t the only one there, and perhaps the others in my group have their own takeaway on that encounter. But as I re-lived the experience, I thought a lot about my mindset, values, and also did some research on the personality traits of a moose. Turns out, we have a lot in common.

Since then, I wrote a middle-grade adventure mystery in which moose play a significant role. In the early stages of the story, my writing coach suggested I drop the moose–she didn’t see the need for him/them to be there. I listened to her reasoning, thought about it carefully, and then continued on with the moose in the story. I’m glad I went with my gut instinct–the story would not have been as interesting or successful without them.

To honor and stay connected to my muse, I have several, small sculptures in my writing space. I’ve found them on various trips to Minnesota; they’re wooden, ceramic, resin, and plush. What is a muse? It’s a source of inspiration, a guiding genius. Since I became a writer, I always hoped I’d find mine, not knowing when (or if) it would happen or in what form it would present itself. Would I recognize it when it happened? How would I know? I decided not to pursue finding a muse; I figured when the time was right, it would reveal itself to me. And he came through, as I hoped, on that dusty, exhausting trail in Glacier National Park.

Image credit: Anne K. Hawkinson

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