In the fall of 1995 I was a freshman at Middlebury, and my aunt and uncle lived about an hour away in scenic Waitsfield, VT. They were very good to me when I was in college; feeding me occasionally, coming over the Gap to see my performances whenever they could, generally being supportive and cool at every opportunity.
The first time I drove over the Gap to visit them, they fed me a lovely dinner, and we visited for a while before I had to drive back to campus. It was dark when I headed south on Route 100, moonlit clouds floating across a starlit sky, a low mist hovering in the deep vee of the valley. It was the kind of night you read about in books.
Just south of town the mountains rise up on both sides of the road, the Green Mountain National Forest looms inky and silent, and the pavement winds like a ribbon through Granville Gulch. On the night in question, I was cruising along at about 45 mph when I heard a cloppity-cloppity-cloppity sound coming up from behind me. I swung my head around, my heart racing, and looked out of my driver’s side window into the misty darkness.
Into the heaving bosom of a galloping bull moose.
He cloppity-clopped alongside my Subaru for no more than three heartbeats–heartbeats which thudded in my ears while I prayed I could keep my car out of his path–before veering back off to the left, and disappearing into the mist.
It was a long time before I let go my white-knuckle grip on the wheel. My ancient, rusty Subaru would have been no match for him, had we collided. I wouldn’t be here today to blog about it.
The next night, I phoned home to tell my Dad about my moose. He’s a native, if displaced, Vermonter, and has, for many years, traveled a sales route up and down that very route. He said, “Oh, I’ve heard about him. Likes to chase cars.”
Likes. To. Chase. Cars.
I drove that road with reverent caution over the next four years.
A few years ago, I asked my Dad, who still travels that sales route, if there had been any recent sightings of my moose. He said no one’s seen him in a few seasons. I like to think he met a nice cow, had a few calves and retired to a meadow somewhere in the National Forest. But if you’re driving through Granville Gulch on a dark misty night, keep your ears open for the cloppity-clop.