Munjoy Hill, my neighborhood in Portland, Maine, is less than 300 miles northeast, as the crow flies, from Greenwich Village in New York City, and although it is far less densely populated with humans, there are more wild things of note including one, appearing yesterday on my street, so odd and wonderful that it already feels like a dream. But first…
This bird may not look like much in this photo taken from my window across the street, but when they’re on the electric lines outside my window, they are the biggest, baddest, black birds I ever saw – or heard. Shrieking bluejays are pikers by comparison. I don’t know yet if these guys are blackbirds, ravens or crows, but I admire their unassailable command of their air space.
Two blocks from my house is the Eastern Prom – a walkway that runs for two or three miles along Casco Bay on the eastern end of the Portland peninsula. I frequently pass this giant, gingerbread Victorian with all those curves and corners and peaks and windows. It doesn’t matter to me what it costs to heat – if someone’s handing it out for free, I’ll take it. It is a magnificent, wild thing in its own way, don’t you think.
This one isn’t so massively spectacular as the Victorian except for that amazing widow’s walk stuck on top like a cake decoration. It doesn't seem to belong, but there it is and I’d like to be invited up there one day.
This Victorian, just a few doors down from the other one, reminds me more of a storybook castle that should be on the edge of a deep forest in 19th century Germany. Even in its pristine whiteness, it could be the setting for a Grimm fairy tale, as though there is a dark secret in the attic.
This white pigeon accompanied me one morning on my walk keeping just this distance between us. When I stepped forward, so did he. When I stepped back, so he changed direction too. After a bit of experimentaqtion to be sure I wasn't fooling myself about his pacing me, I continued my walk for about mile while he led the way.
I see this scruffy black cat every day. I don’t know if he has a family or if he lives by his wits, but you can tell from his world-weary demeanor that he's seen it all and one new resident with a camera and a kitchykoo howdy-do doesn't mean a thing in his world. It's obvious too that if Ollie weren’t such a fancy-pants cat and could go outside, he wouldn’t have a chance against Blackie.
If you don’t see an animal in this photo, you’re not blind. There is none, but how I wish there were. Yesterday, mid-morning, I was at my desk in the bay windows when a moose – yes, a moose – came into view camera right.
I know, I know – it’s hard to believe. I hardly believe it now, a day later, myself. My only proof is that man in the lower left of the photo. He was shouting to anyone who could hear, “Moose! Moose! Look at the moose!”
The moose wasn’t running scared, nor was he sauntering. He trotted along as though he had a destination, went up a driveway across the street almost as though he lived there, returned to the street and continued along the block until he turned right at the corner – while I was scrambling to focus the camera.
A moose, folks. A great big, wild moose, like nothing I’ve seen since Northern Exposure, just walking along my street. Many strange things happened to me during my 37 years in New York City, but I never saw a moose there. I had to move to Portland, Maine for that to happen.