Moonlight in Graniteville
Trip Start Sep 02, 2013
15Trip End Dec 05, 2013
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Boston, Cape Cod (where we profitably visited a thrift shop, although a bit too macabre for my taste: just racks and racks with dead husbands’ shirts), Plymouth, a squillion cute little towns (is there a New England planning law that says all timber buildings must be painted white just as all structural steel must be painted light green?), Bar Harbor, the White Mountains and Vermont, where Mrs Henry and I experienced our first night of freezing conditions in the Egg in the town of Graniteville. It was a Mr Henry clad in tracksuit pants, hoodie and white tennis socks that presented himself to Morpheus’s arms, dear donors, and how cruelly was I repaid by the Goddess of Sleep
After Graniteville, a dash across mountainous roads that drove Mrs Henry into a high funk (“Slow down, slow down, you’re doing ten kilometres an hour!”) and a visit to yet another thrift shop to setlle Mrs Henry’s nerves. What is better, a thrift shop addiction or a little nightmare every now and then to deal with stress?
The New England mountains in autumn, the streams that ripple alongside the winding roads, what can I say? Lots of very trite stuff.
So what can we say about New England, other than that it’s beautiful and that even inhabitants of Graniteville, Vermont, always have and will continue to fall in love, commit adultery and do all the things that people do everywhere, despite the grim functionality of the name of the town they live in?
Haven’t seen any. Not even one without antlers. What we have seen are road signs warning against moose, not just the yellow moose head triangle and the words “crossing next [x number of} miles”. There is also a massive rectangular sign that explores the issue further. “brake for moose – it could save your life – hundreds of collisions”, it says.
It could be just something that the New England Tourism Board has dreamt up. Fully aware that, apart from a couple of geriatric moose living well away from human settlement and activity and not getting out much these days anyway, there are no moose left, the Board has decided to simply put up warning signs to make out that the New England moose population is raging and basically out of control. I mean, in Gorham (pronounced, Gore Ham) at the foot of the White Mountains in New Hampshire there is a moose sign outside the local Walmart!
Now, what confirms Mrs Henry and myself in our belief that the New England Tourism Board is trying to pull a swiftie here is that there is a moose warning sign as you approach Gore Ham Walmart from the east, but that there is no such sign when you approach Walmart from the west
“Makes you think, don’t it?”, said Mrs Henry tapping the right-hand side of her nose with her right-hand index finger knowingly. “What’s the bet they have all moved to Florida?”
Otherwise in the way of wildlife, we have seen a lot of dead wildlife. Not dead moose, though.
In Bar Harbor, Maine, a couple of days ago Mrs Henry and I did do some live wildlife watching. It concerned a sea gull. We were sitting in our camp chairs outside the Egg, watching a sunset, when we noticed a sea gull flying around with something big in its beak. A shell? Yes, a shell, because after a few ostentatious fly-bys, the gull flapped its wings to achieve reverse thrust, so that it was hanging still in the air, and opened its beak to release what turned out to be a shell, which burst open when it hit rocks on the beach, a little jet of water squirting brilliantly in a ray of the dying sun. The gull then tracked round and landed where it had dropped the shell and ate its contents. It repeated the routine and when it had finished eating, it seemed to look at us and walk away towards the water with a little swagger.
“Normally you only see stuff like that on David Attenborough”, said Mrs Henry, “but good on that little sea gull. It’s doing was it’s supposed to do. Hunting and collecting. It’s a role model!, that’s what it is! It sets an example that all those dole-bludging, fast-food-addicted, foulmouthed Bondi seagulls would do well to take note of!”
New England is past us now. Mrs Henry and I are encamped on the shores of Lake Ontario, precedent to reaching Niagara Falls. As we downed our end-of-the day Budweiser at dusk, a feline creature with shining, green eyes made its way towards us from the shoreline.
“It’s a skunk!”, yelled Mrs Henry alarmed.
It was, dear donors, a skunk, a creature that David Attenborough has yet to cover in his admirable TV documentaries. Skunks don’t just stink, they spray in defense and it’s the stench of that spray that should be feared. It apparently lasts a lifetime. The problem was, given the lacunae in Sir David's body of work to date, the thought processes and therefore the timing of the skunk's defensive responses were unknown to us.
So we threw rocks to scare it and the skunk until it slunk away.
"That skunk can be our moose", decided Mrs Henry.