Tuesday, August 4, 2009

No Moose for You

Elisabeth called on her cell phone to say she was parked on the side of the road looking at a moose.

She didn’t actually say “na,na,na,na,na” but it was in the tone of her voice: I saw a moose and you didn’t.

We have been going to Maine every summer with few exceptions for over twenty years. We favor the mid-coastal area for it’s beauty, relaxed ambience and because we have friends there. We were visiting them when the call came in from Elisabeth, who was driving up from Boston to join us, that she had accomplished what has eluded me for twenty years: she had seen a moose.

It is not from want of trying that the over-sized ungulate has eluded me. Every year I drive around at dusk seeking out marshy areas that they favor. I go on early morning moose stake-outs. Many years ago, I found a marshy, sandy area behind a newish subdivision that was chock-a-block with moose tracks. As often as I could, I would stake myself out behind a dune or bush and await the beast whose huge kaddidle hoppers had made the tracks. It never came to pass. Once, I met a woman back there who was berry picking. I asked if she had ever seen a moose. “Often,” she replied, “Take my word; you don’t want to run into one up close. It’s scary.” Indeed, but probably no more scary than running into an over-weight old guy in a bucket hat and shorts lurking behind a blueberry bush.

I would like to see a moose, not engage with it. A friend of mine came close to having this type of encounter. While on a fishing trip at a lake Canada, he had waded a short distance off shore. Suddenly, he was engulfed in a stomach turning odor which he described as a potpourri of every bad smell imaginable: backed-up septic, rotting flesh, extreme halitosis. He turned to see a bull moose giving him the old stink eye from shore. Fortunately it wandered off.

While we were in Maine, Kris, my son, was attending a bachelor party at Moosehead Lake. As the name implies, this is in the heart of moose country. He emailed a host of moosian snaps showing the big lugs dining, bathing, and basking in the sun. “Dad,” he wrote, “if you want to see a moose you have to come here.” I am sure in the world in which he lives moose in northern Maine are as common as squirrels. However, I live in a mooseless parallel universe, so I am sure I would schlep all the way up there and find, well, squirrels.

Granted, coastal Maine is not where they are most common in the state. They are common enough, however. Some years ago one leaped through the plate glass window of a laundromat in Rockland in broad daylight causing several people to re-soil their freshly washed undies.

The moose has become a monkey on my back. Friends and family who have moosed don’t hesitate to share their good fortune with me. I wouldn’t call it out-and-out gloating, but it is borderline. We have a niece and her family who live in southern Maine. Their children, like everyone else in the family, are aware of my condition moosewise. They have sent me pictures of moose they have taken in their backyard, stuffed toy moose, refrigerator magnets, etc. They even sent me a book about a boy who despite obsessive searching has never seen a moose. Lo and behold, he gives it up. As soon as he stops looking, he sees one.

I tried it, but not looking produced the same result as looking and looking is a lot more fun.

I’ll keep searching because someday my moose will come.

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