We've been going for evening kayak outings on our lake recently. It's interesting to note that the lake water here is now warmer than that of the Atlantic Ocean in August (which is when I typically went swimming and snorkelling when we lived in Nova Scotia.) I remember occasionally turning blue when I spent time in the water there, and there were years when the weenie Hubster refused to set foot in the ocean. He is far more wimpy than me! A delicate bearded flower. But I digress.
So anyway, we've been kayaking almost every night after dinner lately. The water has been calm, the weather beautiful, and we can out-paddle the mosquitoes. Hardly anyone else has been on the lake; I expect that to change as the summer progresses and more of the cottagers show up and get drunk.
The other night, we paddled around to a cove not far from our house. There are only a couple of cottages there, and the shoreline is mostly wooded, with marshland on the fringe. As were were drifting along, enjoying the warm air and golden evening sun, I spied by the shore a rather large rock I hadn't noticed last fall when we were out. I remarked on this to Gordon.
"Hey! Is that a rock?"
"Huh?" Gordon had been in his own little paddling world, no doubt dreaming of negotiating treaties and enjoying fried pickerel with the Missinabee Cree up in northern Ontario. This is his job, and he loves it. I mean, negotiating treaties is his job, not eating pickerel. But he'll eat just about anything, unlike his previously-mentioned father.
"That thing near the shore. Is that a rock?" I query.
"Oh. Yeah." I should add, Gordon doesn't have his glasses on, which is often the case when I want to point something faraway out to him. ("Gordon, is that a peregrine falcon carrying a tabby cat?" "Sorry, I don't have my glasses on.") Some of us have -10 correction for short-sightedness and would be legally blind without our contact lenses. Hubster has the luxury of a barely-there prescription.
I keep looking at the rock. It's the only rock amongst the reeds, and it's quite large. I paddle towards it.
"You know, I don't think that's a rock." But I'm not sure.
"It's a rock!" says the myopic one. He clearly wants to get back to the pickerel dream.
I should add at this point that I am a very curious person. I am a big problem-solving, puzzle-doing, let-me-get-to-the-bottom-of-this type of gal. I can look at something Hubster has been trying to figure out for hours and instantly solve the problem. I blame it on my creative brain. I am really good at thinking outside the box. It's just the way my mind works (believe me, my brain has other problems that balance out the creativity!)
Unconvinced by Gordon's opinion, which is often the case (he says he loves me because I challenge him. HA!), I pick up the pace and head for the rock.
"Gordon, there seems to be a lot of moss on that rock." I am thinking of the rocks back in British Columbia. They were always covered in a fur of moss, due to the incredibly damp climate. Here, it's not damp like that. A bit of lichen, sure, but a mossy covering? Why would a rock out in the sunshine look so... mossy?
"Mmmm, well, it's a rock." Have I mentioned Gordon's blinkered thinking?
Paddle paddle paddle!
"Gordon, that's no rock!"
Paddling faster now!
"Gordon, the rock has brown furry moss!" Moss ain't brown, in my experience.
Paddle paddle paddle!
"Gordon, that rock has brown... FUR!"
Paddle paddle paddle!
"Why are there so many flies around here?"
Paddling a bit slower now. Backing up, in fact.
"GORDON! THAT ROCK STINKS! Aaaiiiiieeeeee!"
Covering mouth with hand now. Trying not to wretch.
"What, I can't smell anything!" says the olfactorily-challenged one. (No wonder he does litter-box duty at our place.) He's downwind from it, for cryin' out loud. How can he not smell it?
No, my noble readers, it was not a rock. It was a dead MOOSE. Most likely a calf, definitely not a bull moose. The poor thing was half submerged and its head thrown back so that we could only see one sad little ear. Its legs were almost completely underwater, so it did look not unlike a rather large rock, until you got within smelling range. The flies were having a party and inviting all their friends.
Last fall we saw a mother moose and her calf near here, and I fear this might be the young one. It's unfortunate, since our landlord said that these two were the first moose he had seen around here in 25 years. We have plenty o' deer; moose, not so much.
I don't think Gordon ever did catch a whiff of the odour, but I wanted to back off asap. "Poor moose," I murmured, and off we paddled into the sunset.
The next day, I emailed a friend of ours who works for Environment Canada and knows all about wildlife. He suggested to us that moose are not terribly, er, intelligent, and this one might simply have drowned, or it could have been chased by dogs.
Really, I would have preferred to have found a rare mossy brown rock. Or at least something that didn't smell.