Bruins Fever is like Moose Mania
I’m writing this on a sun-splashed (finally!) afternoon, after so many days of cold rain it seemed as if all of New England had collectively willed the heat away after the temperature peaked near 100 only a week ago. It seems that we do have that power sometimes: thousands of people all praying silently (or not so silently) for the same thing, strangers connected by some common wish, and then whatever it is we’re all hoping for, happens. When it does, we call it a miracle, but who’s to say what is a miracle, what is coincidence, and what really is some surreal power conjured by all of us.
Which brings me to a certain hockey game being played nearly 3,000 miles west of Yankee’s offices in the deliciously lovely city of Vancouver. I can’t recall the last time people in the office here buzzed about hockey, but the buzz is certainly here. By the time you read this, the game is over and the streets of Boston are either spilling over with giddy fans celebrating a most improbable Stanley Cup victory run — not unlike what New England saw in 2004 when the Boston Red Sox brought an entire region together in the singular hope that years of disappointment were about to be shaken free — or are eerily quiet, locked in that sodden silence we feel when something we want comes so close, only to remain as distant as ever. I could cheat, I suppose, and wait until late tonight to write this, and then I’d know. But this isn’t so much about the Boston Bruins as it is about its fans, old and new, and that unifying force unique to sports. This very moment, I’m guessing that tens of thousands of people in New England are e-mailing friends and family, all asking where they’ll be watching the game, what do they think, and how ’bout them Bruins …
I’ll be sorry to see it end, whichever way it goes, because it’s so rare to be part of something so improbable, a sporting run few saw coming. Which brings me to the moose. A few days ago, I climbed aboard a small bus, capacity about 14, in Gorham, New Hampshire, right on the edge of the Great North Woods, the least populated part of the state, where there’s roughly one moose for every five or six citizens. If you’ve always wanted to see moose, there’s no richer place than northern New Hampshire. The bus was parked in front of the tidy Gorham Chamber depot. I climbed aboard at 6:30 and off we went. Our group included a family of four from England; a couple from the South touring New England (seeing moose in the wild was definitely near the top of their list for this trip); and the owner of a dogsledding outfit here in the North Woods, who wanted to see what the popular tours were like so that when her own guests asked, she could tell them. Our driver was Lauri Black. She’s been at the helm of these tours for five years, and she calls herself a “mooseaholic.” What that means is that sometimes when she comes home from a three-hour, 90-mile or so drive along roads bordered by forests and wetlands, she awakens at 5:00 the next morning and goes on her own. She has hundreds of photos of moose. She knows where the moose feed, where they go to cool off, where they like to cross the roads, and where they may wait, deep in the forest, for a bus to move along.
At one point she pulled over to the side of a road in the steadily growing dusk. We climbed quietly out of the bus and fanned out a bit. You could feel everyone wishing, pulling, for the moose to saunter out of the hidden dark. I especially wanted the children from England to see their moose. “C’mon, moose!” — a collective wish, then — 16 people telling that moose to come out.
And then there he was, just behind us. Out of the woods, across the road, and into the wetlands. Great excitement. Before the evening ended, we saw nine moose, none more memorable than that first one alongside the road: the power of a collective desire for something good, something unexpected to happen.
Which is why I just have this feeling that come Friday, June 17, when you’re reading this, the streets of Boston will be shaking with a victory parade. From northern New Hampshire to Maine to Providence and all the little towns of New England, people will be leaning close to the television or hovering by the radio saying, “C’mon, c’mon.” The power of an entire region’s hopes I think will trump a West Coast city, no matter how lovely it may be.