Wouldn’t you know. A moose walks into my front yard and I can’t find my camera.
The little case is empty. Where did I put it?
I gaze at the huge animal munching on the leaves of the apple trees outside my kitchen window. I guess I will just have to enjoy watching it.
No. I will use my big single-lens reflex camera that has been idle so long the battery is probably dead. I fish the camera out of its bag and turn it on.
I dig a memory card out of the bag, plug it in and move to the dining room window for a better view. The moose slides her mouth along one branch after the other, munching on the leaves that don’t fall to the ground.
I snap a picture. Great! The flash is on. Certainly I have scared the creature away, but no. She munches on. It has been so long since I used this camera, I can’t remember how to turn off the flash. I change the mode and it works. I take a couple of shots and try to zoom in. My lens won’t focus closer than 55mm and she is way too close for my 300mm lens.
I’ll bet I put that little point-and-shoot in the bag where I keep all its cords and cables the last time I downloaded photos onto my computer. Eureka! I switch cameras. This one can zoom closer without changing lenses, but it does not capture what I see when I click it — there is a slight delay.
The moose loves my apple trees so much, it looks like I will have plenty of chances to anticipate its moves… if only it weren’t behind the branches of the trees. I move to the living room for a better view, but those windows have screens on them. What’s this? The seldom-used door from the living room onto the front porch is open. What a gift. I can sneak outside without making a sound. I creep onto the front porch.
The animal stops munching and ambles across the front yard, then stops and looks back at the apple trees longingly. They seem to be calling her back, but she continues toward the driveway, stopping for a taste of the few leaves left on a birch tree in the corner of the yard.
She is moving slowly down the driveway toward the road when she stops. She seems to be drawn to the beech and maple trees lining the edge of the yard. She easily scales the embankment from the drive back into the yard and starts munching again.
I move from the front porch into the yard, concealing myself behind one apple tree, then another — the one closest to the moose. With her rear end facing me, I can’t really get a decent photo, so I just watch. I can hear her munch and occasionally huff.
After what seems like an eternity, she heads back toward the house on the outside edge of the yard. There she cleans off the leaves of my only lilac bush.
I move to the other side of the apple tree and try to kneel down to get a view beneath the branches. She notices, but does not stop munching.
Hmmm. What if she decides to return to the apple trees? She is so docile. She wouldn’t harm me, would she?
She starts across the yard between me and the house and I wonder. Then she stops and poses in front of the porch. I decide I don’t want to hide any longer. When I move into her view, she picks up her pace and clops across the drive in front of the garage, but she does not disappear into the trees immediately. She stops at the edge of the woods and studies me quizzically.
“Hello, moose,” I say, forgetting my camera. “Thanks for the visit. You are welcome any time.”
Kathryn Olmstead is a former University of Maine associate dean and associate professor of journalism living in Aroostook County, where she publishes the quarterly magazine Echoes. Her column appears in this space every other Friday. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or P.O. Box 626, Caribou 04736.