Once Upon a Cold Winter Night…

What a Hippopota-Mess Cover

Winter Greetings!
I’d like to share one of my stories from What a Hippopota-Mess! (compliments of Orca Book Publishers) about a moose who turns blue from the cold. What’s ‘Muckles’ the moose to do when sub-zero temperatures of the Yukon are totally ruining his life? How will he survive year after year? Will he ever be warm again?  Well, put on a fire, curl up with the kids and read all about it. Don’t miss all the fun facts at the end.

Blue Muckles Brown                

by Pat Skene

Away up in the cold white north,
nearby a Yukon town,
there was a moose out on the loose,
they called Blue Muckles Brown.

Folks recognized him right away
because his hide was blue.
His antlers drooped with clumps of ice.
He shivered all day through.

Now, moose lore spread for miles around
about this blue-moose sight.
And tales were told how he was brown,
but changed to blue one night.

They say it happened when the land
was gripped by bitter frost.
When piercing purple skies grew dark,
poor Muckles – he got lost.

He drifted through sub-zero cold
and roamed all afternoon.
He fell asleep right there beneath
the blue face of the moon.

He dreamed of playing hide-moose-seek
with sheep and caribou.
He snored as northern lights streaked by
and disappeared from view.

Then how those arctic winds did howl,
and how the snow did blow.
And how the ice did blanket him,
that night so long ago.

When morning came and Muckles woke,
the land was white and still.
And overnight he’d changed all right.
He’d turned blue from the chill!

Through many wintry moons he shook
and shivered to the bone.
He dreamed that someday he’d be warm,
but stayed as cold as stone.

One chilly Yukon afternoon,
his moose-chores were all done.
Some friends cheered, “It’s hoof-hockey time!
Hey, Muckles, join the fun!”

But Muckles shook his ice-clogged rack
and grunted now and then.
His moose-teeth chattered as he vowed,
“I won’t be cold again!”

He watched the curling chimney smoke,
rise from the village roofs.
He stomped his big-moose-feet to leave
with snow caked on his hoofs.

Determined as a moose could be,
Blue Muckles Brown turned east.
He trotted toward the Yukon town,
that beckoned this cold beast.

The children welcomed him with food
(smoked smelly-fish and ham.)
And when this blue moose wouldn’t eat,
they brought crowberry jam.

Then Muckles said, “You’re all so nice,
and please don’t think I’m bold.
But I’d much rather have some clothes.
You see…I’m rather cold.”

They searched their closets and their drawers
for stuff a moose could wear.
They gathered all the fluffy wool
and warm things they could spare.

Despite the way they tugged and stretched,
it mattered not one bit.
The village kids had to agree –
this moose was hard to fit!

Their mukluks were too miniscule.
Their sweaters were too small.
Their parkas looked peculiar.
And their wool socks made him fall.

Then someone said, “Take him inside.
It’s heat he’s looking for.”
But Muckles’ antlers were too wide
to push him through the door!

“We’re sorry Muckles,” cried the kids,
“but we can’t seem to win.
We wish that we could help you out.
A cold front’s moving in.”

And just the thought of being chilled,
made Muckles jump for heat.
His moose-hoofs clacked so fast and hard,
that sparks flew from his feet.

“I’m thawing out,” Muckles exclaimed.
“I’m feeling warm as toast.
So now whenever I feel cold,
I’ll dance until I roast!”

The harder Muckles did that jig,
the hotter those sparks got.
And soon the ground around his feet
was smoldering red-hot.

His blue moose-coat was turning brown.
His antlers soon caught fire.
His ears were smudged with soot and smoke.
But he danced even higher.

The children squealed as pumper-trucks
honk-honked their way through town.
Soon firefighters rushed to help
and hosed poor Muckles down.

They said, “That crazy jig you do
has caused these sparks to fly.
Next time you dance to warm yourself,
just call and we’ll stand-by.”

Now Muckles doesn’t hate the cold.
He loves a Yukon storm.
He dances the Moose-Muckle-Jig,
until he’s toasty warm.

But firefighters stay on-call
in moose-alert attire.
They’ll race cross-town to splash him down
if Muckles catches fire!                                   

And now a special interview with Blue Muckles Brown

1. What kind of name is ‘Muckles’?
Muckles: The word ‘muckle’ means ‘a large amount.’ Since I’m a very big moose, it’s a good name for me, don’t you think?

 2. How big are you?
Muckles: The biggest moose in the world live in the Yukon and Alaska. If I raise my head up, I could probably touch the ceiling in your house with my antlers. I weigh more than six refrigerators!

3. Why wouldn’t you eat the food that the kids gave you?
Muckles: Because moose are vegetarians. We only like to eat twigs, shrubs and plants. I eat about 20 kilograms (45 pounds) of food everyday. That’s like 20 big boxes of cereal in kid’s food.

4. Couldn’t you get warm by standing in the sun?
Muckles:  In the Yukon, we only have about 4 hours of daylight in the winter months. There are days in December when the sun never comes up at all. But I like June the best, because sometimes the sun stays out all night!

 5. Are there any birds in the Yukon?
Muckles: The big black raven is the official bird of the Yukon. It’s known as the ‘trickster’ because it can imitate noises like a barking dog or brakes on a big truck. Ravens are very smart birds. They can even unlock your lunch box with their sharp beaks and eat your sandwich!

 6. What do northern lights look like?
Muckles: The northern lights (also called aurora borealis) are streamers of beautiful colors. They move across the sky at night like shimmering rainbows.

7. What are mukluks?
Muckles: They’re warm winter boots decorated with fur trim and beads. People wear them to keep their feet warm. I sure could use a pair of those!

Blue Muckles Brown is one of six rhyming stories from What a Hippopota-Mess! See my website for more details at www.pressheretostartpublishing.com

See you between the lines and on Twitter @PatSkene

11 thoughts on “Once Upon a Cold Winter Night…

  1. John Davidson

    And now whenever JD’s cold
    On those wintry photo retreats,
    No shivers and shaking in the snow,
    Why, just do like Muckles and dance upon his feet.

    Such a great Muckles tale. Love it Pat. Yer awesome!

    Like

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