Rambling travelogs from a world traveler

Monday, March 9, 2009

The Moose

Nature, red in tooth and claw"

Gentle Reader,

Occasionally, one is privileged to be witness to a moment that cuts through the fog of our mundane existence and reveals the essential nature of the human condition. As is usual with my tales, some explanation is required. I hope you will stay with me as I have to braid together several strands to tell the complete tale.

First, these pictures:

This is the backyard of Ilona’s Bed & Breakfast’s ‘New House’. Even though Anchorage, Alaska is an urban area much like the rest of the US, its citizens live much closer to nature than most American’s are used to. Moose (Meese?) are found everywhere throughout the city – it is not at all uncommon to find them in your yard. Moose are generally placid herbivores – but they are evolved to defend themselves against the wolves – their hereditary enemy. The bulls are generally only dangerous during rutting season and the cows will defend their calves aggressively. They defend themselves by using to their size – well over one thousand pounds – and their hooves to kick and stomp an enemy to death. Alaskans respect the moose.

These pictures appear to be made in close proximity to the moose, but this moose was neither in rut nor with calf and was fairly tolerant of the photographer. I did not take the picture – a fellow friend and occupant of Ilona’s took them. More on these pictures later.

The next strand of my story is to tell a theory of human development that I have found to be very illuminating as it concerns relationships between men and women. I first heard this theory on National Public Radio over a decade ago.

The theory reasons thus…. Homo Sapiens first emerged several million years ago in the Rift Valley in Africa. It is only in the last several thousand years that mankind has begun to place a veneer of civilization over our vast history of membership in small ‘Hunter / Gatherer’ tribes. Let’s examine how millions of years of evolution have shaped Men’s vs Women’s basic psychology.

Consider first the ‘gatherer’ part of the Hunter / Gatherer meme. In these societies, women generally stay near ‘home’, caring for the children and gathering what bounty nature provides. Success at this vital activity requires women to be very social, cooperative and gregarious. They spend hours together preparing roots and tubers, vegetables, curing furs….on and on. The important issue here is that women in Gatherer societies spend a lot of time talking to one another, gossiping – if you will allow me that term – and sharing ‘corporate knowledge.’

The men on the other hand – as hunters - spend a lot of time loping across the countryside, quietly and stealthily stalking their prey. The men also need cooperation to succeed in the hunt, but it is a different kind of cooperation than that required of women – the ability to remain quiet for long periods has great value. It is only after the prey is in the bag that men can relax their conversational requirements. Men’s corporate knowledge is shared around the campfire in the evening when the hunt is done.

Here, then is an explanation of the age old questions: “Why can’t she just shut up?” and “He never talks to me!” Men and Women are evolved to view talk differently. It is important to note that it is an error to make a value judgment as to which sex is better at communication. Each sex has different skills for valid reasons.

But that is an aside…. The main point I want to make is that men are also evolved to possess a strong drive to “Kill something and bring it home to Mama and the Kids.” Hold that thought.

Change gears now and let’s consider Skype. The modern Professional International Pilot is gone from home for weeks at a time. In the past, we only had mail, then email to use to communicate with home. You were out of the loop with your loved ones for much of the time.

Now, if you have a laptop computer and an internet connection you can use the ‘Voice Over Internet Protocol’ to talk through the net for pennies. If your computer possesses a webcam, you can talk with your loved ones in a teleconferencing format.

Finally, we reach the point in my narrative where I can weave these strands into a story. Imagine this scene in the ‘New House’ at Ilona’s Bed & Breakfast. My friend had just shown me those pictures of the moose on his laptop and I had requested that he email them to me. I had some vague notion of sharing them with all my Esteemed Readers. I am sitting at the dining room table next to the large window that looks out over the backyard and my friend is across the room on the couch, watching TV. He has just connected with his wife on his Macbook and is teleconferencing. He has on a headset and is murmuring through it to his family. I have just downloaded the pictures and am organizing them on my disk drive. There is movement out of the corner of my eye that attracts my attention. Out the window, our Moosey friend is back, placidly munching on the low hanging branches of the backyard trees.

I turn to my friend and say: “Speak of the Devil! The Moose is back.” My camera is in several parts and I am not dressed to go out. I pull the camera’s memory card out of my laptop and go downstairs to throw on a jacket, get my shoes and assemble the camera.

When I get back upstairs my friend is outside. He has disconnected his laptop from its power supply but the headset is still on his head. Standing ankle deep in the snow with his laptop computer reversed and turned around towards the moose, so that the webcam could see the animal, he is saying: “Can you see it now?’

Initially I started to giggle at this silly scene.

Then I suddenly stopped laughing as it hit me: he was satisfying his deep and ancient need to “Hunt something down and bring it home to Mama and the Kids.”

I remain,

Dad / Geoff

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I don't want any meese for my birthday. Entertaining as always Daddy Geoff.