This is a moose. A very large moose. Moose live in Vermont. I live in Vermont. I have never seen a moose. I have followed moose tracks, but no moose. Bear also live in Vermont. I have also never seen a bear. I have smelt a bear and I have heard a bear, but I have never seen a bear.
There are other things in Vermont some people never see.
Some people have never seen (or smelt) the maple syrup boiling in the sugar house or tasted sugar-on-snow.
Some people have never climbed up a hill into an apple orchard where the trees are pregnant with fruit, or looked through the red juicy ornaments to the lake and the mountains beyond. Some people have never hiked up those mountains to look down on the orchard below.
Some people have never canoed on water so calm the hills look down on their mirror image.
Some people have never walked along a wooded path littered with fallen leaves bright as jewels.
Some people have never pulled up to a country store and had their gas pumped and wind-shield cleaned by a man who remembers them from elementary school.
Some people have never seen a road that wasn’t flanked by billboards or garbage.
Some people have never bought gas station coffee that was brewed in their own state or fresh homemade cookies baked just a few towns away.
Some people have never swam in a mountain stream cold enough to turn their lips blue in the middle of August.
I may have never seen a moose but I know they’re out there hiding under some (very big) trees. I also know the bear is – and he can stay hidden, thank you – but I have seen, smelt, felt, and tasted the other treasures of this state, and while they say, “Welcome to Vermont,” more importantly they say, “Welcome Home.”