My wife gave me an oil painting of a moose for Christmas.
Not only that, she allowed me to hang it in the living room.
As you can see from the photo of this priceless gift, it is a well rendered rendering of a mighty moose in all his majesty.
I could not be more thrilled. Now every morning, as I sip my coffee, I can ponder this fine, fine painting. Is that anger in his eye as he warns off his foes, or lust as he trumpets to his mate? The beautifully interpreted drool and slobber issuing from his mouth would support the latter view. Note how skillfully the artist, one D. Alpaugh, has captured the light reflecting off the slobber. Observe how he has balanced the splendid but terrifying rack of antlers with the dessicated bush at the lower left. Painterly, indeed. Is he saying, that as virile and throbbing with life as this beast is now, he too will one day return to the soil? I suspect so, and it brings a lump to my throat, and I instantly bond with this forlorn beast. A memento mori, I believe the ancients called this. Perhaps it's just sadness in his eye.
I first saw this painting in an antique shop in Lambertville, NJ and proceeded to rave about it to my wife: "Can I buy it? Huh, huh? Can I buy it?", I bellowed spraying my own moosely slobber far and wide. She just rolled her eyes and walked away.
Can you imagine my surprise and delight when I saw the carefully wrapped painting shaped package under the tree? It was my personal Red Ryder BB gun! I shredded the paper off with reckless abandon, and there was the mighty beast. I ripped her favorite Will Moses print from the wall and mounted my trophy. "Are you going to let him hang that there?", our daughter asked. "I can tolerate it," Kathie observed. "I've put up with a lot worse from him." I married an angel!!
I must admit I have a moose fixation and am always on the lookout for Mooseana. My family knows this and feeds my jones by sending me moose related objects: ceramics, stuffed toys and the like. Since I have never seen an actual moose, they also taunt me by sending photos they have taken on their vacations of the out-sized ungulates.
It is not from want of trying that the big lugs have eluded me. For years we vacationed in coastal Maine, and each year I would drive around at dusk seeking out the marshy areas they favor. I went on early morning moose stake-outs. Many years ago, I found a marshy, sandy area behind a newish subdivision that was chock-a-block with moose tracks. As often as I could, I would stake myself out behind a dune or bush and await the beast whose huge hooves had made the tracks.
It never came to pass. Once, I met a woman back there who was berry picking. I asked if she had ever seen a moose. “Often,” she replied, “Take my word: you don’t want to run into one up close. It’s scary.” Indeed, but probably no more scary than running into an over-weight old guy in a bucket hat and shorts lurking behind a blueberry bush.
Some may think it odd to be obsessed with and collect images of a creature or creatures they have never seen. In other quarters, however, this is called religion. I think I have a better chance of seeing a moose than I have of seeing an angel.
Correction: an angel is staring forlornly at her desecrated living room wall. Lucky for me, I'm married to her.