When people ask about Maine, there’s a few fun things I share with them. Okay, maybe lots.
Of course, you’ve gotta start with Moose and Lobster, our two emblematic fauna. I like to tell people about the “What to Do If You See a Moose in the Road?” video we had to watch during drivers’ ed. There’s a lady in the video who tells a harrowing tale of a moose in the road that turned and ran towards her car, leaped into the air, and landed on the roof, crushing the car and her bones. She lived, but only just.
I also like to try explaining moose in foreign languages. I’ve learned how to say ლოსი in Georgian and Der charmante elch in German!
Or, for the inquisitive, there’s the fun fact that lobsters used to be prison food. None of the fine gentlefolk of Maine wanted to eat those sewage-eating, bottom dwelling, insects of the sea. So, lobster was fed to prisoners in Maine. Not too bad!
Then there’s the Aroostook War, the only time a state unilaterally declared war on a foreign power. There weren’t any deaths, though there’s a memorial for one American militiaman who died from…something, and I seem to recall some Canadians getting eaten by a bear? But I can’t find that information again. Maybe I dreamed it up!
When people come visit me in Maine I like to take them to the Portland Headlight and/or to the Maine Wildlife Park in Gray, Maine. Recently, I took a CTY friend there on her several-day excursion to the great piney north!
As we wandered the animal refuge, making puns and feeding corn to deer and king fishers, we encountered a charming British pair and their Maine companions. We were in the Moose paddock and there were quite a few large moose on display that day! The boy turned to Susanna, my friend, and said in an adorable British accent, “That’s the biggest moose I’ve ever seen in my life! And it’s also the only moose I’ve seen.”
Everyone laughed, the Mainers most of all. The boy began reading the sign describing Moose conservation efforts. “…to protect the Maine Moose. Ohhhhh! Mummy, that’s the main moose!” His mother laughed at his mistake and corrected him, “No dear, Maine is the country!” The Mainers cracked up at the mother’s mistake, teasing her over her fast and loose treatment of US geography. The boy’s attention wasn’t held by this laughter for long, though, for there were more treasures to discover!
He hopped onto the fence and examined the plexiglass case containing a hoof, a jawbone, an antler, and a swatch of fur from a moose. “Mummy, what’s all this?” “Don’t bother with those, dear, those are the moosey bits.” In all my years talking and thinking about moose, I have never heard anything as wonderful as the phrase “moosey bits.”
We wandered on towards the black bears who proceeded to pee and poop all over themselves. When the British caught up with us the mother was delighted at the bears, while the boy was more intrigued by a smaller creature nearby, “Mummy! Look at the chipmunk!” Priorities, kid.