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Ken Marques
By Ken Marques, Manson, Wa
Practical thoughts on faith, politics and community
Friday, November 2, 2012

Friends...A Mouse and Moose?

 By Ken Marques

One sunny morning my best friend and companion for the past 50 years and two of our dear neighbors, Fred and Cathy were guests at one of Canada's famous landmark hotels in the Rocky Mountains.

The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise is an enormous castle-like structure perched on the shore of a beautiful turquoise blue-green alpine lake. Our morning began with a sumptuous breakfast, bold coffee and more pastry than necessary.

My lovely wife, Sue and I set out for a hike around the eastern shore of Lake Louise. Our friends, Fred and Cathy decided to a canoe on the lake.

The hike took us nearly a mile towards the blue/green glacier that fed the lake. On previous walks in these gigantic mountains; we had observed elk, mule deer, mountain goats, ground squirrels, coyotes and a myriad of fowl. We were hopeful to spot a moose, but we learned that moose are rather difficult to find. We had been told that spotting a bear would be more likely than encountering a moose.

At about the mile mark, we stopped to rest and noticed a movement in the underbrush next to the path.

Under the pine needles a tiny brown mouse broke through and began pulling itself with its front legs up the slight incline towards a fallen tree.

The mouse stopped, turned his tiny head towards us and without even a concern of our presence began nibbling on what appeared to be a seed. The mouse continued on his stroll towards the fallen tree at a very slow and laborious pace.

It appeared to me that he was dragging his hind legs. With a few more pulls with his front legs or paws, I don't know which is proper; he disappeared behind the fallen tree.

Continuing our hike, we finally came to the end of the trail where we sat on a log bench to rest our tired feet and take in the magnificent glacier, tall pines and massive granite mountains. As I usually do after a long walk, I found myself beginning to nod off, or "space out" as the younger generation would say. I found myself entering my usual daydream world. The last of my lucid thoughts before wandering into dreamland had to do with the determined little brown mouse with the injured hind legs.

"Excuse me sir. Do you have the time?" I turned towards the voice and saw no one. The voice came again, and I looked down at my feet where I thought the voice was emanating.

There resting near my left foot was a small brown mouse in a wheelchair- like contraption made of twigs mounted upon two pair of acorns serving as wheels. I replied. "Yes I is just before noon." "Thank you sir," said the mouse and off he scooted in his contraption at a rather rapid pace. He rounded the bend in the path and all of a sudden he and the unusual vehicle fell over the edge of the path into a bed of pine needles.

I got up and approached the mouse as he was shaking his head, attempting to clear it. I asked if he was all right. Somewhat embarrassed he replied, "I'm used to it. Tumbling is a frequent occurrence in this rickety thing." I asked him why he had to use the contraption.

He explained with some annoyance that he had taken one too many chances leaping from logs and had gotten his hind legs tangled in the thick green moss and falling forward had been hanging in midair for quite some time before he was rescued. He had injured both hind legs and only had the use of his front legs.

"To get from here to there a bit faster my friend made a platform with wheels for me and I haven't mastered the art of maneuvering this thing as yet," said the Mouse. "I'm sorry about the accident; I said and added, what's your name?" My name is Michael, said the mouse. I volunteered my name. "I'm Ken, and I'm glad to meet you Michael."

Bending down I righted the "thing" as he called it and helped the mouse back upon it. "You are fortunate to have a good friend to care for you," I said with deep sincerity. "You're right, said the mouse." "Matthew Moose is my best friend."

"I'd like to meet Matthew Moose," I said. "Well," said the mouse, "That may be a little difficult. You see, Matthew Moose is kind of a loner. You might even say he is rather elusive." "Elusive," I repeated. "Yes," said the mouse, "Matthew is hard to find in the forest. Humans find it difficult to see him because he blends in so well with the surroundings. And unfortunately, Matthew is rather shy. But I'll attempt to arrange a meeting. After all, nothing ventured nothing gained- isn't that what you humans say?"

"Yep, that's what we say and I truly believe it. I will be here in the park for another day and then have to be on my way to a place called Banff. Would you be so kind as to arrange my meeting with your friend Matthew later today?" I said. "I'll get right on it," said the mouse.

I left the hotel just before sunset and walked to the arranged meeting place. As I neared the end of the path I saw Michael Mouse resting at the base of a log. But nowhere in sight was a moose to be found. "Hello Michael," I said.

"So, where is Matthew Moose?" There was an awkward silence for a moment, and then Michael spoke up.

"Matthew is here, but you may have difficulty seeing him because he attempts to stay hidden from view from most other creatures, especially from humans."

"You say he's here? Could you point him out to me?" I asked. Michael Mouse said, "If you look to your right and near the lower branches of that rust- colored pine tree, you'll see his rack of antlers blending into the bark of the tree." "I don't see him," I said. "Tell you what," said the mouse, "close your eyes and imagine you are standing in front of a young bull moose about two feet taller than you and with long skinny legs." Closing my eyes, I concentrated on a picture of a tall skinny moose. "Now open your eyes slowly," said the mouse.

There before me was Matthew Moose with his eyes half closed as if he just awoke from a nap. He was munching on something, perhaps it was Moose Munch, the kind you can buy from the "Harry & David, "catalog. Matthew didn't speak; he just nodded his head and snorted. Michael said, "He's not much of a conversationalist, but he has a big heart and is always willing to help others in the forest when they get into trouble. In fact, just last week, Matthew rescued a small human baby who had crawled away from her parents who were picnicking. The baby had fallen into the lake. Matthew swam to the baby and picked her up using his huge antlers."

"You see his antlers look like a big basket and he just scooped her up and placed her on the shore. The baby crawled back to her parents, who hadn't seen what had happened, but wondered with some trepidation how the baby got soaked. Matthew quietly swam away before the parents could see him. The baby however, was giggling and animated. She put her hands on her head and spread her fingers to mimic Matthew's antlers, but the parents couldn't understand."

Amazed with the story, I asked if I could take a photograph of the two forest friends. They agreed and bunched together. I snapped the picture, thanking them and told them that I had a dinner reservation at the hotel. We parted company. I said that if I ever returned to Lake Louise, I would look them up.

I felt an elbow poking me. It was Sue attempting to wake me from my daydream. She asked me where I had been. I told her that I would tell her after dinner and that I would show her a surprise photo. Sue, chuckled and said, "Ken, you're always full of surprises! Let's get going, we have a long walk back and a nap would be wonderful before dinner."

After a delicious Alpine repast including a generous slice of warm Huckleberry Pie topped with a large scoop on vanilla ice cream, I pulled out my camera to show all present, the surprise photo. There on the camera screen was a little brown mouse, a rickety wheel chair- like contraption-but no moose! Michael was right. His friend was truly "elusive," humble and unnoticeable but always available to lend a hoof or an antler. The kind of friend our God intended of his creation.

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