On a recent midweek afternoon, I found myself responsibly focused on an hour-long online ZOOM meeting, while sitting at the desk up in our loft. My wife (who shall not be named, going forward, in one of my columns since I have been threatened with bodily harm should I do it again) was up at Saddleback, responsibly engaged in teaching skiing at the Roger Page Ski and Ride School.

I was very much focused on the committee meeting, of which I was the Chairperson, as part of my responsibilities as a member of the Board of Directors of HealthReach, the organization that manages and staffs our local Rangeley Family Medicine and ten other rural health centers in western and central Maine.

It all sounds mundane enough so far, correct?

My iPhone was next to the laptop, face down and destined to be totally ignored during the meeting that I was responsibly conducting. I do recall hearing the phone vibrating briefly three or four times indicating text messages had been received during the latter 20 minutes or so of my ZOOM meeting. I’ll check on them after the meeting concludes, I thought to myself.

The meeting concludes, everyone on the meeting signs off, and I close my laptop. As I gathered up my papers relevant to the meeting…I remembered that I might have a couple of messages on the phone. So I finally checked them out.

Here is the first one from about 15 minutes earlier. It was from my wife:

“Help. moose outside door!!!!!”

That was curious, I thought. Then I read her second text from a couple minutes later:

“I’m in car and moose is staying by the door”

Hmmm, I wonder where she is, I thought to myself. Still at Saddleback? Is she fooling around on her phone from her car in the employee parking lot, or what? That would be totally out of character, but who knows, she may be giddily expressing herself after receiving a huge tip from a very satisfied parent of one of her young ski lesson students. It has happened before…the tip, that is,…not the “giddily expressing herself via text message” part. I quickly read the third text, from four or five minutes later:

“Moose outside our mudroom door. What do I do?, I’m in driveway”

Fortunately, she attached a photo from her car located about 50 feet up our curving and snow-filled driveway. Sure enough, there was a moose standing right where she said it was (see photo #1). Perhaps I should go downstairs and see if he is still there, I said to myself.

The moose as documented from our Subaru Outback accompanying the third text message. Judy Wicken

I entered the cold mudroom and walked to its log door facing the walkway to our garage. I looked out the door’s window. Sure enough, there was a moose standing motionless about 8 ft. from the door (see photo #2).

My somewhat obscured photo of the moose from our mudroom’ log door window. Allen Wicken

Note that the photo doesn’t amount to much. The moose was obscured by two 6”x6” posts, helping to support the roof of the walkway. Plus, the lower portion of the photo shows some unavoidable fir branches that were part of the door’s wreath-substitute featuring an antique wooden snowshoe and all wrapped together with a lovely, wide red holiday ribbon and bow. However, I digress.

Thinking about nothing other than getting a better close-up photograph, I slowly opened that handsome log mudroom door. Many of you know that a moose’s hearing is much more acute than its vision. The yearling’s ears perked up…and he/she decided to finally move…breaking into a brisk trot up the driveway in the direction, by the way, of our little Subaru Outback…with my increasingly nervous wife (I learned later) inside!

I took a second photo as he/she trotted uphill briefly, but it is nothing special. The moose then stopped short of the car by about 15 ft., turned back with its ears still in full alert position and checked to see if I still represented a threat (see photo #3).

Second photo from our Subie of the moose checking if I might be a continued threat. Judy Wicken

I really didn’t pose much of a threat, but who knows what goes through the developing mind of a yearling moose trying to find its solitary way in the wilds of Maine. He/she abruptly turned and resumed that uphill brisk trot on a collision course,…bearing down on that nice little Subaru with my wife still behind the wheel, and now envisioning a caved-in engine compartment, compliments of the bewildered moose.

As if playing “chicken”, he/she veered left at the last moment, missing the car by a foot or two on the passenger side. My wife managed to get off a last-second iPhone photo through the passenger-side window of the middle of its hind legs in motion. It is a very impressively close-up shot, but (between you and me) also not worthy of sharing with this column.

End of story, right? Well, hold on there. Lets take a closer look at Photo #1 for a moment. Please allow me to direct your attention to the moose’s focus of attention. That’s right….our electric meters!

Remember back in 2017 when there was a controversy that sprang up regarding Central Maine Power’s (CMP) new meters and the problems with their monthly electric bills? Well, I did some extensive research involving at least 10-15 minutes and came up with the following, to refresh your memory:

In 2019, Maine’s Public Utilities Commission (PUC) did some audits of customer bills and other investigations. They came up with the following conclusion: “Pinpointing the root cause for ongoing billing problems remains elusive, despite the audits scrutinizing CMP’s bills and meters”. Then, Maine’s top consumer advocate said at the time (2019) that the problem was with the metering and billing system, not the weather!

The controversy remains unresolved, as far as I can tell. However, before you is incontrovertible (good word, eh? It means not able to be denied or disputed) evidence of MY THEORY for the fact that CMP has, for the past four years and counting, enlisted the help of Maine’s moose population to secretly read the meters of customers at times when they believe the customers are not home, or perhaps also in the dead of night! You heard/read it here first!

My theory is further bolstered by the fact that our moose spent minutes, not seconds, reading our meters…because we all know that moose have poor eyesight. He had to study the new digital totals for a while…and hope that he got his numbers correct.

We also know that they make up for this vision deficit by increased hearing acuity. That’s why his/her ears perked up so quickly when I slowly opened the log door…and promptly trotted briskly uphill a few yards. Notice also that those ears remained in the alert position in Photo #3 ! Also, the apparent decline of the moose population is quite likely that they have developed their secretive skills to a point whereby they are not seen as much in recent years. Climate change, and its influence on a more prevalent tick infestation has to be “fake news”, of course.

I am convinced that my theory is incontrovertibly (to use that great word again) spot on!

Given that the Rangeley Region is deep into Maine’s Second Congressional District, there has to be others who will agree with my theory. Let’s give the miracle of online social media a couple of weeks. Perhaps my theory’s spread on Twitter and other platforms… will likely capture the attention of at least one televised “news” network. That new coverage will certainly validate my theory!

 

(By the way, I continue to subscribe to the following statements that you find at the conclusion of all of my North by NorthEast columns).

 

We need to write, otherwise nobody will know who we are.
Garrison Keillor

Respect Science, Respect Nature,
Respect Each Other,…and Respect the Truth

Per usual, you thoughts and constructive comments are always welcome. Fire them off to: [email protected] Thank you, in advance.

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