July 9 – 15, 2021Vol. 23, No. 5

The Quotable Moose

by Martha F. Barkley

The Quotable Moose: A Contemporary Maine Reader is edited by Wesley McNair, Maine's poet laureate emeritus from Mercer. He has presented several times at our Belgrade Library. One time was extra special because McNair was here to celebrate the opening of our new building. In 2020, he gave many books to our library's new poetry section in memory of and to honor Kati Sutton, who loved poetry.

This Quotable Moose is one of those many donations. It is a collection of many of your favorite Maine writers, some poets and some not.

"Of Moose and a Moose Hunter" is by Franklin Burroughs, a favorite of mine. Burroughs was given a special South Carolina Writers Award in 2012, compared to Henry David Thoreau in the Academy of the Arts category for essays. He lives near Bowdoin College where he retired from several years ago and writes to me about Maine scenes out every window.

In 1980, for the first time in forty-five years, Maine declared an open season on moose. Given the nature of the animal, this was bound to be a controversial decision…When the votes were counted and the attempt to repeal the moose season had been defeated, I doubted that much had been lost, in any practical way. The hunt was to last only a week, and only a thousand hunters, their names selected by lottery, would receive permits each year…Hunter success ran close to 90 percent in that first year, and has been just as high in the years that followed…

Moose remained untrained by shootings that occurred for one week in Maine, according to this essay. Moose remained their shy and unsmart selves, standing in roads and highways like a big boulder and unmoving.

The moose hunting stories are difficult to read, but true, unfortunately. Maybe try other favorite writers that McNair highlights in this collection. I dipped into Bill Roorbach's "Into the Woods" and Cathie Pelletier's "Civil Defense", Monica Wood's sensitive "Wish", and Carolyn Chute's shocking "The Other Maine"…

I have a dream. Not like Martin Luther King had a dream. Not that kind of dream. What I've been having is more like a nightmare. It is always good to wake up and see that it hasn't happened yet…Broken snowmobiles. Car parts. Plastic toys strewn around…Bring back humanity. What did we do with them? Where did we put them all? All those lawbreakers who broke the codes! Find them! They were beautiful.

Tourists in Maine went away for trips abroad to see the real humanity in Carolyn Chute's nightmare, not a dream. This summer, 2021, we are ALL back in Maine enjoying every virus free moment we can savor in this beautiful place. Check out some of Wes McNair's compilations of Maine authors and enjoy local color on the page of one of his many titles at the Belgrade Public Library.

Two of Monica Wood's books have been part of the Belgrade Library book discussions in summers gone by and she has even presented twice in Belgrade. Aren't we the lucky readers? Some have even enjoyed her writing classes in Portland, not far away. The One-in-a-Million Boy was a truly fascinating novel about a brave elderly lady who mentored an extraordinary boy on a bicycle. When We Were the Kennedys was a wonderful Mexico, Maine story of a quirky Catholic priest uncle and mill town trauma. Yes, JFK time period, if you were wondering.

Read them both, great reads. Not my opinion alone. Everyone in both book discussions soaked up Monica Wood's wonderful writing.