Monday, September 23, 2013

A Moose with a Wandering Eye (or "The corn was as high as a...")

PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL: I thought at first it was an accident, cars stopped both sides of the road, but down below the road, at the back of a field he stood, as if amused by the crowd that had gathered. I'd like to think he was waiting for me, the guy with the tripod-mounted Nikon and 300mm telephoto lens, and I suppose it's possible that even the moose community has to put out a press statement, stake their claim to the area around the Shepaug Reservoirs, deliver their bit of PR. He was certainly a handsome spokesmoose.

I had just finished a full day of shooting, and in my mind I had put away my gear, even though the gear was in reality spread across the back seat. The inevitable decision: to stop or not to stop? I passed the crowd then rushed to park, grabbed my stuff, found a spot to set up; aim, focus, shoot, while the moose waited and seemed to be looking calmly from face to face among the crowd that had gathered. It was not entirely clear who was the more beguiled, the moose or us.  He allowed me just enough time to get off three shots before he began slowly to walk away, frequently turning back to check the little pink faces of the natives on the hill behind him

The area around the Shepaug Reservoirs is a large natural preserve. There are two or three miles of forest to cross between the corn field and the lower reservoir, and the reservoirs are similarly buffered on all sides. There is room there for many moose and much else, but it is on the bleeding edge of sprawl and whenever there are such sitings, I think about how small that area is, and I feel the constant march of lawns closing in. Each year there are more small driveways burrowing into what was previously unbroken forest, cutting a nearly invisible tunnel ending in a clearing, house and lawn.  We bore our way into the forest as surely as any beetle.

Alas, so poor am I as a news reporter and naturalist that I had to check with my daughter to be sure it was, in fact, a moose I had photographed. The truth is that he was probably lured out of his refuge, not to have his picture taken but by the ripe corn which will soon be harvested.  I'm told this is also mating season when the bulls, normally solitary, go in search of mates.