Sunday, July 8, 2012

Maine Attraction, Part III

(continued from previous blog)

I roused our group the next morning and persuaded them to take a sight-seeing tour. My father-in-law suggested a drive to Rangeley, halfway between the North Pole and the equator. I didn’t relish the idea of squeezing back into the car, but it was something to do, somewhere to go—and it wouldn’t involve a mass minnow sacrifice.

It takes an hour and a half to reach Rangeley from Howard Pond on a route that cuts through the Maine wilderness. The small town opened up in front of us like an oasis. Sailboats dotted the lake, children frolicked, and parents lounged on the shore. Now this was a vacation spot.

We walked the town’s main street, lined with painted clapboard shops peddling ice cream, trinkets, outdoor gear, and culinary delights at the Roadkill Cafe. I browsed through entire shops dedicated to moose paraphernalia—the only sign of any moose I had spotted yet on this trip, mind you. But I refused to purchase one moose souvenir until I had seen the real thing. If Maine wouldn't deliver me an actual moose, they wouldn't get one cent of my tourist dollars.

We strolled for over an hour before the rest of the group decided it was time to move on. My father-in-law wanted to do some more scenic driving before heading back for dinner. We wove through the wilderness again, passing more trees than I thought still existed in this great country. I don't believe we encountered another single vehicle on our path. Not surprisingly, we didn't encounter any moose, either.

Then, cutting through a clearing the size of a football field, my father-in-law slammed on the breaks and pointed out his side of the car.

“Check it out, over there. A moose!”
I leaned over my mother-in-law from my hump seat.

“Where?” Tall grass covered the clearing from the road to the woods beyond. Other than that, I didn’t see a thing.

“Right there.” Dave pointed out from behind me. I followed his finger with my gaze. Indeed, there it stood. She (or so I guessed, for the lack of antlers) grazed in the brush about twenty feet from the road, tall and brown and still. She reminded me of a cow, the way she chewed the grass as if nothing else in the world was worth thinking about or noticing. She wasn’t nearly as majestic as I had imagined, what with the lack of antlers and all. But she was a moose. I stuck my camera out the window. In those pre-digital days, all I could do was point and shoot and hope for the best, and so I did.

That evening I curled up on the porch with Death on the Nile and the hummingbirds, and the latest addition to my collection—a stuffed moose wearing an electric blue “Maine” sweatshirt. At home in my photo box, among hundreds of shots from cities and resorts across the country, is a picture of green brush with a brown spot the size of a ladybug that only I know is actually a moose. It’s one of my favorites, and my most prized souvenir of my communion with nature in Maine.

1 comment:

Elizabeth-Anne Kim said...

I love it--particularly the universality of having that all important photograph that only you can decipher. Thanks for sharing!