monday morning the road was damp.
wet in places, puddles collected in potholes and deep cracks in the asphalt. my bike's headlight, on low beam, shot silver across the dark road and lit each pool and spill. the air, damp as well, carried scent of soil, pungent stalks and fragrant sage.
heavy clouds bunched grey and fat a hundred feet above the summit, their outline clear to me only after I'd pedaled halfway up the dark road into the lightening morning. two kilometers from the top my headlight was no longer necessary and the night's rain was beginning to sink into the ground.
at the peak I paused to pull on a windjacket, then swooped down to the reservoir, eyes searching the hillsides for deer, secretly hoping for a coyote. as I neared the final curve before the reservoir, I saw two dark shapes by the shoulder, four-legged, all of those limbs long and spindly. I braked, slowed, looked left, saw three deer on the hill gazing down, and then I looked back at the two moose. yearlings, I first thought, and as I neared them I realized one was much bigger than the other and I swallowed, mom.
how fast can a moose run?
how was I going to sneak past them on the way back up the hill, where my top speed might be 12 mph?
mom observed me as I cruised past, not 15 feet away. the deer uphill followed with their eyes.
at the reservoir I circled and headed back up the road, heart beating wildly, silently asking the moose to let me pass peacefully. the deer, now on my right, remained firmly planted, heads turning with my movement. the moose, dark, knobby and gangling, watched me as well, immobile but for their staring eyes. I stole looks at them all, heart fiery, palms damp inside my gloves, as I pedaled round and round, moving past, leaving them all to their early morning feast.