In the middle of the night, my daughter finds me and asks:
“Mom, is it true that moose are going extinct?” The question has her up, alert, and worried.
“I don’t think so,” I say quietly. “I will find out for you.”
The truth is, I haven’t thought about a moose in 15 years. The last time I even remember reading the word “moose” was when I read Elizabeth Bishop’s poem by the same title. In that poem, a moose approaches a bus of travelers. The moose, Bishop writes, “looks the bus over, grand, otherworldly,” and later, the poet wonders: “Why, why do we feel (we all feel) this sweet sensation of joy?”
This morning I read that moose aren’t going extinct (although in some regions, their habitats are threatened). Their conservation status falls under the category “least concerned.”
My daughter is relieved, and I’m left wondering why I’m not waking up in the middle of the night concerned. Children tend to be concerned with everything, and for some, concern about the environment and endangered species keep them up at night. My kids remind me about the recycling and the lights I leave on in rooms I’m not using. They turn the faucet off when I’m brushing my teeth. They remain concerned while I worry about what’s convenient or only within my immediate experience.
Being woken up to consider the moose–the one I’m supposed to be “least concerned” about–taught me that living with flair means I concern myself with the world outside of this bedroom. There’s a moose somewhere out there, grand, otherworldly.
(Photo from USDA Forest Service, Superior National Forest Wikimedia Commons)