I don't recall how many moose I've met during my days in the Pine Tree State. Off hand, a rough count would come to "too many."
All were unexpected. None will I forget.
One of my more "relaxed" encounters was the fall afternoon I arrived home at our "camp" on the shore of a lake to find a big bull moosey guy standing between the car and the camp.
I had two options, well, actually one, and I chose it. I remained sitting in the car to await my turn to cross the yard. (The other option would have been to run for the camp. But Bullwinkle might have decided he liked a good afternoon tag game, especially if he were "it.")
As I sat, of course, I kept an eye on the big guy, which wasn't hard since he was the biggest critter in sight. Hard to ignore a 12-foot-tall bull moose in your yard, while you're sitting in the car.
The next biggest critter in the yard was Chad, our Lab-Irish Setter mix. Actually, he was kind of small compared to the moose where he stood behind the moose. It was obvious that Chad was "scaring" the moose away from the camp. Obvious to me, that is, just not to Bullwinkle.
After Chad barked frantically for awhile, Bullwinkle turned his big, very big and velvet-antlered head and looked back at Chad. Bullwinkle may have been scared stiff, but if so, he was really good at bluffing. He turned back in the direction he had been heading and wandered into the woods.
I wandered into the house without having dampened any part of my attire.
I don't recall our supper talk for that night, probably discussed the beautiful sunset over the lake.
Another car-based moose tale occurred when I started teaching. On the way to the school, I saw several cars parked and a small crowd gathered on the opposite side of the road. I stopped, looked, and, like the rest, climbed out. It's not often a recent import from Pennsylvania gets to watch a moose standing in a nearby field.
When I arrived at the school, I told the principal my reason for being tardy.
"That's the only acceptable reason in Maine for being late," he replied.
A third auto-based bull moose adventure happened late one night as I was driving home. I had just rounded a curve, headed north, when I spotted the big guy about 100 feet ahead of me, also headed north. But bull moose can be curious, and he turned around to see what had disturbed his late-night stroll. When he saw the Ford, he lowered his head and started toward Mr. Ford and me.
Having heard the correct action to take when faced with a bull moose at night when you're in your Ford -- or Chevy, or Toyota, or Subaru, or any vehicle short of a tank, I turned off the headlights, put the Ford in reverse, and backed as fast as I dared in the dark. Not a safe plan, but, then, no other cars came up behind me.
After backing 100 feet or so, I stopped, and turned on the headlights. Bullwinkle had disappeared. Feeling appropriately frightened -- but relieved, I put the Ford into low gear and headed on home. (I chose low gear to start, because Mr. Ford was a standard drive.)
The last Bullwinkle I'll share from when I was driving a car -- again a Ford, but this time a big one, a huge LTD wagon -- was one night driving the back road to our home in Swanville from Bangor. I came down a fairly long hill with a steep bank on the left. Down which bank dropped Mr. Moose, landing about three feet in front of the Ford's front grill. Glancing at the other beast claiming the road, Bullwinkle trotted along just in front of the car for about ten feet. Then he leaped up a small bank to the right and galloped across a field. (I know moose can't gallop, but this one broke the rules.)
When I was editor of a small weekly non-newspaper, I was still there about suppertime when the phone rang. Knowing it wouldn't be someone with a hot story for our next edition (Hot stories were pretty rare.), I picked up the phone.
On the other end was a truck driver in Augusta, about 40 miles distant, who asked directions to find our non-newspaper with his load of print paper for non-newspapers. I gave him directions, and he then asked for any advice.
Never ask an editor at a non-news weekly for advice unless you want some. I advised him that if he came onto a moose during his drive to Norway, he should turn off his headlights.
"You're kidding," the truck driver replied.
I knew that driver wasn't from Maine.
Milt Gross can be reached for corrections, harassment, or other purposes at email@example.com.
Milton M. Gross Copyright 2013