9 July 2020


   Two moose  met on a snowy path in northern New Hampshire.

   “Jake! It’s good to see you. It’s been awhile, and I was getting worried.”

   “I know what you mean, Harriet. Our kind seem to be dropping like flies. (‘Dropping like flies.’ ‘Happy as clams.’ Where do humans come up with these lines?) Sorry, I got off track there. I was just going to say that I heard that old Frank ‘met his maker’ (ha ha; another one!) last winter.”

   “That’s true, and Nellie, too. And it’s even harder on the youngsters. I heard that over 50 percent of young moose are not surviving – going (as you said) to meet their maker much too soon.”

   “Where did you hear that?”

   “From one of those biologist people. I didn’t move fast enough, and they got me in the rear end (pardon the anatomical reference!) with one of their tranquilizer darts. I heard them talking when I was coming around, again. Luckily, they didn’t put one of those collars on me, like they did on Mavis.”

   Jake said something that approximated a strong human cuss word. “It’s these damn ticks! I get scratchy just thinking about them.”

   “But where did they come from? I never heard our parents talk about them.”

   “I heard (from the same source a year or so ago, when they took a blood sample from me) that it’s all about ‘global warming.’ The whole earth is getting progressively hotter, which means fewer cold, snowy winters for us. Apparently, we’ve always had ticks, but in former years the cold killed most of them off.”

   “But they’re eating us alive!”

   “That’s exactly what they’re doing. One or two or ten ticks are bad enough; but when hundreds are on you, all sucking away at the same time, it’s more than the body can handle, especially for the young ones.”

   Harriet was picturing in her mind all those ravaged little moose bodies dead and dying in the snow. She’s actually seen some of them. “What can we do about it?”

   Jake snorted (which moose do very well). “There’s not a fu… there’s nothing we can do about it. Our whole existence is in human hands – always has been. They killed off almost all of our ancestors. Then, when there were only a few of us left in the North Country, they protected us, and our numbers began to increase. They cut more forest and cleared more land, and made a lot of better moose habitat, and we increased so much they started shooting us, again. Then, this global warming came along – caused by them, by the way – and now we’ve hit the skids, again. They say there were 7000 of us in New Hampshire in 2000; now we’re below 4000 – not all because of climate change, but quite a bit of it. We’re their hostages, and they hold all the cards.”  

(Note of clarification: Please overlook any mixed metaphors or strange syntax. Remember that these moose are not speaking Human. They say things differently than we do, and this is just a rough translation.)

   If Harriet could have wrung her hands, she would have. “But can’t they do something about it?”

   “Beats the he… I mean, it seems like they could. They caused the problem, and I understand that the consequences for them are as great as they are for us. They’re pretty smart on the small stuff, I have to admit,  , but they’re fu… I mean, they seem pretty useless at solving any big problems. Nothing seems to motivate them. With this climate stuff, a lot of them still don’t believe it’s happening, and a lot of the others are just at the ‘viewing with alarm’ stage. Even us moose are beyond that.”

   Harriet shook her head. “Well, I wish I could do something. I’d even wear a face mask if it would help – and if I could find one large enough.”

   ‘Unfortunately, it’s not that kind of a problem. It’s not a disease we transmit to one another; it’s the fu… It’s the ticks.”

  They stood around and pawed the ground for a few minutes, but there didn’t seem to be anything more to say.

   “Well, Jake, nice to see you. Maybe we’ll run into one another again before too long.”

  “One can only hope, Harriet. One can only hope.”



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