The Motionless Moose
Written by -M. Taggart
The Motionless Moose
The lake reflected the moon in shimmering splinters as the wind pushed waves inland and finally to his feet. The wind drove directly at the camp from the Northwest. He couldn’t smell the campfire, although he could hear the flickering of the flames just after one of the men shuffled the burning logs around. They were constantly doing this while complaining about how no one could keep a fire going.
That’s the thing about being at camp, he thought. We are in the middle of no where and the owner insisted that we use the metal fire bin with wildlife depicted on the side. They don’t work. The airflow is stifled toward the bottom. He had mentioned that they should drill holes at the bottom of the fire bin for better airflow and was scoffed at. It was always like this. Or, they would talk around him. He left the fire, and them, and brought a chair to the foot of the lake to watch the wind push the white caps around.
Only two men sat at the fire now. The rest had gone to their bunks. It was late but he didn’t want to be in the bunkhouse. They toss and turn and snore while he lays quietly and doesn’t sleep. No. He’d rather sit here and let a moose walk up to him. The wind felt nice on his face. It wasn’t cold. It felt like a comfortably blanket that moves. The waves licking at the shore landed with a calming rhythm. If he could talk with the lake he would have enough company to last the night. Sometimes he could catch a few words of the conversation at the camp fire, but he didn’t want to know what they were talking about so he tried not to listen. He could see the outline of the mountain range on the far side of the lake. He thought about the Indians who knew those mountains and traversed them hundreds of years ago. They truly knew the mountains and lakes and the game. They were not there to own it, but to be with it. He wanted to talk with them and sit at their camp fires even if he didn’t understand a word they said.
He closed his eyes and inhaled deeply bringing in all of the musty smells of the lake. He wondered if he’d be able to smell a moose or a bear if it were close enough. While his eyes were closed and the wind brushed passed his cheeks he heard a clopping sound coming from the shoreline just north of him. He opened his eyes to see a darkened image of a large moose feeding. The moose raised its long legs out of the water and dropped them back into the lake without taking its head out of the water. Just then he heard the harsh hissing sound of steam as the men were done with their night and putting the failed fire out for good. He didn’t bother calling to them. He liked seeing the moose alone. He liked that he could have this and they will know nothing about it. Even if he did tell them they wouldn’t believe him. They’d say a moose wouldn’t come this close to camp with a fire going. They’d tell him moose don’t feed at this time of night. Then they’d tell their stories about how they have seen moose and about how close they’ve gotten to them and him having seen a moose would have dissapeared all together.
The large head of the moose slowly rose from the water, tested the air, and stood motionless for a moment then again started to feed. He closed his eyes and replayed the motionless moose. He had what he needed and what he came for.
Maine is gorgeous. Maine is large. If you think the world is small, I invite you to drop yourself off, deep in the woods Up North, and wait for nightfall.
I’m drawn to the toughness of Maine. Both in its natural state and within its industrial towns that have been slightly forgotten. Much like my home town of Turner’s Falls in Western, MA. (Gill actually.) I love these towns. I’m proud of them. I see potential even in the crumbling buildings. But let us not pretend that Maine isn’t a snow globe. Because it really is. My Western, MA friends- I owe you one of these articles. It’s coming.
All photo’s taken by me. I’m no photographer. I just point and click at things.
Ps, I wrote a short story. That story became self published, thanks to my wife Megan. If interested you can read reviews or read the story via the amazon link below. Cheers.
There was a constant wind blowing from the south. The wind drove itself into the mountain range on the opposite side of the lake. He had taken the canoe to the farthest southern corner of the lake. There, the canopy of evergreens block the wind. The water was smooth.
The lake was nice and cool. The native trout were active. He watched them rise, leaving small rings. There was only the sound of the wind reaching, and swiveling away from the soft branches of the evergreens.
Raising his arm, the fly line became active and arched beautifully through the air. He’d seen a riser just ten yards in front of the canoe. He landed the fly just inside the outer portion of the ring.
Immediately his line became taught, his rod bent in half. He could feel every movement the large trout made. It fought severely. The fly snapped back into the air, and flew toward the canoe. The fish was gone.
He could still feel the vibrant activity in his hands, arms, and mostly his mind. He lay the rod down, letting the fly line drift on the water. He wanted to remember the feeling of the strike. And he wanted to remember the feeling of his failure. He reached into the inner pocket of his wool coat and found the half-smoked cigar.
He liked that a cigar lit hard after having been smoked and let to die out. He needed to cover the cigar from the wind and point it down to warm it sufficiently before trying to smoke it. If the smoke from the cigar didn’t travel fully through, he’d need to start over. After the third try his thumb would be slightly burned. If the wind was too heavy the cigar couldn’t be lit. He’d be left with a smoldering cigar and burned thumb. But, if the cigar was lit, he would enjoy the feeling of the smoke. He’d watch the swirls leave his mouth and range wildly around his face. No one arrangement of smoke was the same. Thinking about this made him ache with warmth.