Monday, September 01, 2008

This fall: the perfect time to get your goat

During the long drive last week to join my family for vacation in Rangeley, Maine, deep in the woods where no interstate dares to venture, my wife Kara and I witnessed something very disconcerting: the leaves, quite without permission, were already starting to change.

Perhaps our proximity to Labor Day (which, if things had been done right, would be Labor Week) should have been a pretty good indicator that the time had almost arrived to start girding our collective loins with fleece outerwear. Still, now that we’re back home, we can’t get it out of our minds that fall is out there, slowly creeping across the Great North Woods, inexorably making its way south. The Vermont teddy bears are next, then it’s coming for us. It’s like that terrible thing that spread across the country in the last M. Night Shyamalan movie, “The Happening,” except instead of killing everyone, it makes us put our shorts in storage. At least I think something like that happened in the last M. Night Shyamalan movie; I only watch his previews anymore. His recent movies are like tomato slices on sandwiches: it seems like life would be more fun if I liked them, but I just can’t make myself.

With fall sneaking up on us, the reader(s) of this column would probably like to see a Fall Fashion Blowout written by someone who hasn’t been wearing his big sister’s Spring Fling T-shirt since 1995, but I picked up on a new trend in Maine last week that everyone needs to know about, and it’s much more useful than having a magazine tell you that wearing giant sunglasses makes you look like an heiress.

After a long hike, as my family finished resting at the top of Tumbledown Mountain and prepared to come back down, a small group of hikers wandered into the clearing with a medium-sized dog trailing behind them.

“What a funny-looking dog,” I thought, noticing its long, floppy ears, its short snout and its black hooves. Hooves?

“This is Moony,” one of the hikers said, patting the creature on its haunches. “He’s training to be a pack goat.”

As we stared in admiring disbelief, the hiker went on, “Pack goats are big out West. They’re starting to show up on the East Coast now. Moony’s an American Gray Nubian. He was originally supposed to be a meat goat, but we liked him so much, we decided to keep him.”


You heard it here first: this fall’s hottest new fashion accessory comes with bleats. If you’ve ever thought, “Man, I’m sick of lugging this laptop bag into my cubicle every day,” now you have a solution. Finally, the fashion industry has given us something functional.

And if you ever find yourself thinking that it’s too much trouble to be nice to people, just think of Mooney, who proved that you never know when having a winning personality will keep you off the dinner table.

When we returned from the hike, Kara observed summer’s last parting shot.

“Oh no, Babe” she said from behind me, in the voice that she uses when she’s just noticed something horribly awry. Unfortunately, this happens often enough that I recognize the voice.

I froze, waiting for her to brush the spider off my back. But it was worse than that.

“Your, um, spot is looking a little red,” she said.

When your bald spot begins to require sunscreen, there’s no denying it anymore. You can avoid holding one mirror behind your head in an effort to remain blissfully ignorant, but UV rays never lie. I’m pretty sure that getting sunburned on my scalp officially marks my first Indignity of Old Age. But if I’m maintaining the appropriate perspective, I suppose I’ll hope for it to be the first of many.

You can nibble on a tin can with Mike Todd at


  1. I loved your blog about Rangeley. have any of your friends or family see Round Pond? ( Our family developed this land and it is magnificent.

  2. Anon -- Sure haven't, but your pics are beautiful. Looks like a great spot!