“What did you call that lake you live on way up there?” my friends Edie and Lewis kept asking. We were in Florida where they’d gone to escape winter on Long Island for a bit, and where I’d eagerly found them as soon as the invitation was issued.
“Moose-LOOK-megun-TIC,” I said, enunciating like they were second graders learning a foreign word. “It’s Abnaki Native American for moose feeding place. Fourth largest lake in Maine and, actually, the fourth longest place name in the US.”
I couldn’t see behind their sunglasses, but suspected that my little factoids were not helping them form a vision of my special spot on the globe any more than Google Earth had that morning.
“See that small strip of sand across from that big island? I live right about there,” I said, wiggling my pointer finger around the iconic Height of Land picture Lewis Googled on his laptop. But the postcard panorama didn’t satisfy his curiosity. He wanted a bird’s eye view, wanted to punch in my exact coordinates or, at least, my nearby intersections.
“You can type in my street address, but it’s really not a GPS sort of street address,” I tried to explain as he zoomed in and out over green-roofed openings in the trees along the lake, any one of which could have been my cabin. “Nearest town, where I pick up my mail, is Oquossoc. Stands for place of trout. You’ll just have to come visit and see for yourself! But if you come before June, you’ll probably want to bring skis or snowshoes…”
End of conversation. Talk of snow was just too much to bear with our toes in the sand and the warm breeze softly dissipating memories of the polar vortex of 2015. For the moment, it was enough to sit quietly with the knowledge that they were almost as far from their tribal sounding strip of frozen water frontage as I was from mine. And then Lewis started playing New York State of Mind on his ukulele, changing up the words in honor of my failed map quest and his floundering concept of where I called home. Something about being out on the dock fishing and drinking beer.
“…only time I care about is dinner time,” he sang, “cause I’m in a Mooselook-moe-gawntic state of mind!”
For the moment, it was enough to laugh and let him make up lyrics. And then I returned to the Big Lake in mid-March—to the winter that was way worse than the Farmer’s Almanac prediction too ominous to wrap my brain around in November—and the words became my very own.
Mooselook State of Mind (Waiting for spring 2015 version) Sung to the tune of New York State of Mind by Billy Joel Sometimes I go take a break. Need to leave the lake and the wind and snow. Hop a flight to a thawed out beach or to Chicago. But I’m back by the wood stove with what’s left of the homemade wine. I’m in a Mooselook state of mind.
I’ve strolled on the golden sands in the far off lands where the steel drums play. Been lost in food options beyond the IGA. Now I’m eatin’ hot oatmeal in my longies ’cause I’m freezing my behind. I’m in a Mooselook state of mind.
It was so easy livin’ without socks! Out of touch with the dump hours and the moose. But now I’m hoping just to see my dock A bit more sun. Ice breakin’ loose.
When it comes time for the April thaw, winter’s last hurrah, I’ll be Elmer Fudd. I won’t care if my old wool hat falls in soupy mud. I won’t rush for the sunscreen, I’ll be too disinclined. I’m in a Mooselook state of mind. I’m just prayin’ for bare arms and jeans that aren’t fleece-lined. Cause I’m in a….I’m in a Mooselook state of mind!
Editor’s note: Any readers prompted to make snarky comments about me not fully appreciating the four-seasons lifestyle I knew I was getting into when I made the Big Move to Rangeley, please know that there will be a summer reprise. Come July, I’ll be singing a different tune when, God willing, the glorious balmy days beside the lake that we all live for last long enough for me to remember the words.
For more “Songs of Joy and Tomfoolery” see: