I think moose hate me.

I first came to this conclusion years ago, after my first year's employment resulted in my first paid vacation. (O halcyon days...) My youngest brother Val and I went camping in the Iron Range of northeastern Minnesota. Went in at Duluth, wandered in a circle that included Eveleth, Hibbing (where Bob Dylan grew up), Bemidji and eventually attended a Prairie Home Companion show in St. Paul. We fished a little (him seriously. Me... well, years later, when I told him I'd been trout fishing at a Tuscarora Pottery School, he asked "Which book were you reading?"), ate a lot of fried potatoes and bacon, and looked for moose. At one point we even saw tracks, bigger than my hand, at the Agassiz Wildlife Refuge. But the only moose we saw on the whole trip was way down in a gully under the aerial tramway at the Minnesota Zoo.

Fast forward to the year 2000. Denise and I are taking our first real vacation together, visiting her relatives in Alaska. We hear stories about moose in the garden. Moose stopping traffic in downtown Anchorage. Moose eating the shrubbery, and looking in the French doors on her aunt's back deck.

Where do I finally see a moose? You guessed it. Wayyy back in the brush at the Anchorage Zoo.

Do you think it's my breath?

Hostile as they are to me, moose are still endearingly dopey looking creatures. I paint them on soup bowls, coffee and stew mugs, and the occasional pie dish, in honor of Utah Philips' great story, "Moose Turd Pie."

I heard on radio recently that moose seem to be returning to their former range in Eastern Oregon. I may actually get to see one in my own state... Don't think I'll hold my breath.

Or maybe I should?