Wednesday, July 23, 2014

A Maine Gazetteer: Moose

And that brings me to the moose. The lobster may be king of kitsch, but the moose isn’t far behind (although I haven’t seen any life-sized inflatable moose yet – I’m probably not moving in the right circles). And yet it is the perfect symbol for Maine: magnificent and shy, ugly and beautiful, memorable.

Whenever a moose is sighted in our area, a rare occasion, people flock to see it, as if it’s a Shroud of Turin, or Jesus on a pizza. We had one recently in Thomaston, during Thanksgiving week, up to her withers in a swamp, up to her eyeballs in photographs. (The only other sighting in our area that I can recall in the last 15 years was in Owls Head village, in the little pond across from the general store, well before the fame of the store's hamburgers brought the Volvo wagons to town. Well, there was also the mystical sighting in our own yard, I'm ashamed to admit, and I'm ashamed because the sighting was a supposed moose print in the garden, and the sighter was our real estate agent who pointed it out with some drama as we were considering buying the property. Somewhat later, I wondered if she had a certain implement in her trunk to seal deals with flatlanders.) It made me think again that the shy and quiet moose should be the symbol of Thanksgiving, not the bad-tempered turkey, for Thanksgiving is a holiday mellow and kind even though the Pilgrims weren't. The moose is already the state's animal, and keeps continued good health. There's still enough wilderness to sustain it, even apparently in Thomaston, and isn't the bounty and beauty of the land what we really give thanks for?

       Excerpted from Saving Maine: A Personal Gazetteer
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