In case you weren’t aware, Warren County is a Squatchy place.
Like it or not, we are living in a big old forest and if there is one thing I know it’s that a Squatch loves him some forest.
Last Monday, heading into a café on the main street that runs through Kane, I noticed a flyer for an upcoming festival. The Forest County Bigfoot Festival. And my heart skipped a beat. I’ve been obsessed with cryptids forever. Not because I believe in their existence. I don’t, to be honest, though I’m an open-minded skeptic so I’m fine with you trying to prove me wrong. In any case, I’ve loved the idea of cryptids since I was old enough to hear my first campfire tale and, since that day, I have loved the mystery and the magic of stories, any stories, all of the stories, about Bigfoot, Nessie, Ghosts, and Mothmen.
Mainly, I love the power legends like Sasquatch hold over people. Sometimes, it gets a little out of control and they wind up wandering the streets in tinfoil hats. But not often. Only when The Travel Channel panders to that set. But think about it. How passionate does a dude have to be about proving the existence of what remains, despite his best intentions, a complete and utter myth? When is the last time you saw someone as passionate about anything as the guy in full camo regalia setting trail cams and snack traps in the Kentucky wilderness?
I want a fraction of that fever for literally anything in my life.
I know that Sasquatch isn’t real but, if I had to pick a favorite cryptid, he’d be it. Hands – and enormous feet – down. There’s just something about him that makes me wanna boop the nose. I know that Bigfoot sentiments differ based on geography and lifestyle, but people generally tend to have one of two immediate reactions to the mention of his name: fear; or delight. I fall firmly on the side of delight, and even just thinking about a bigfoot roaming the woods around my house gives me that little tee-hee feeling in my tummy.
I just feel like he’s a cool guy, at the core. Like some old hippie that just hangs out in a wigwam, he built out of fallen tree limbs. Never actually around but always kind of present on a cellular, atmospheric level. I know he’s not real, you guys, but I adore the idea of him.
There are a thousand theories about the origin of the beast if you’re going to take off your shoes and dip your toe into this abyss, and you can break them down from wacky and zany to downright malarkey. The whole Bigfoot UFO connection? No. Just no, guys. If you’re going there then you better be ready to accept that Bigfoot is just Chewbacca’s Cousin Eddie and Earth is the Griswold’s driveway.
Squatch deserves better than that. Because, as I said, he’s actually a pretty cool dude from the spurious chunks of legendary “truth” I’ve chosen to create my veil of Squatch Belief. My bigfoot falls somewhere on the spectrum between the chainsaw-carved rustic lawn ornaments and Harry (of the Henderson Harrys). He’s not campy, but he’s not malignant either. He knows I live here. He knows I would poop my pants and die of an aneurysm if he just wandered over some morning to ask if I’d sell him a handful of eggs for his breakfast.
Because the big hands?
Anyhow, my bigfoot is like any other fauna that carries on its wild existence around my dwelling. As benign as most other predators we live amongst. Don’t bug him and he won’t bug you. But he’s also curious. My Sasquatch’s most human feature – perhaps as human as my own – is his curiosity. I feel like Bigfoot is a respectful and hermit-like but ultimately nosy neighbor. I mean, wouldn’t you be curious if a family of extraterrestrials bought the house that juts up against your back forty too? I asked my kids about this earlier, just to make sure I wasn’t anthropomorphizing too much because kids are famous for their effortlessly magical thinking, and if anyone is honest with me when I’m being stupid it is for sure my own offspring.
They were in full agreement. Bigfoot is cool. We wish we’d see him. But when he’s having a good day. Because my Sasquatch is also kind of moody and Byronesque. He’s curious about us and watches us all the time, and most of the time he finds us as amusing as we would find the fox cubs or coyote pups denning in our gully. But we’re capable of a lot more destruction than a fox or a coyote (I know my fellow hobby and real farmers will disagree with me here but it’s okay, I’m secure enough to disagree with you).
I mean. What happens to the raccoons that raid your prize blackberry bushes every night?
Twenty-Two City, right?
They’re cute as hell but they’re also smaller than us and when it comes to our hand-cultivated fruits and veggies we show no mercy, do we?
I feel like the people who’ve had bad Sasquatch experiences might be kind of jerks anyhow. I mean, what exactly were you doing when the Sasquatch threw the boulder at you, Jim? Pooping on a fairy circle?
We all know you’ve had that boulder coming for a long time, Jim.
We all know.
What I admire most about Squatch, though, is the ease with which he’s able to just be, in his world. Legend has it that Sasquatch can disappear before your very eyes. Whether that’s by paranormal woowoo magic or just a primal ability to become some mundane detail of the environment itself based on years and years of good clean woodsy living depends on who you ask. Regardless of the physics, though, Sasquatch is just human enough for us to relate to, but not so human that he and the forest are out of touch with one another.
Sasquatch is, like, the ultimate off-the-grid homesteader without all the human taint of religious zealotry or paranoid delusions of grandeur and persecution. No clandestine meth labs or popup bomb factories at Squatch’s cabin. Just some venison jerky and a soft, warm den.
I mean, you gotta respect my guy. Or girl. Because best believe Bigfoot women don’t need a Head of the Household. Fist bump, Madam Squatch. I’d tear you into jerky strips too, if you got between me and my baby squatches. You’re cool…humanoids. And I like your inverted sequoia sculptures. too.
Every spring about this time, right around the last Full Moon before trout season starts (how’s that for some Farmer’s Almanac Mountain Woman Meteorology) – this full moon, tonight – I’m able to open my windows at any time from dusk to dawn and hear the peppers singing love songs to woo the senses out of their future baby frog mamas, and it’s pretty much my favorite thing. It’s the seasonal experiences that keep me grounded in the physical world. Were it not for the anticipation of falling asleep to a peeper serenade I’d be up all night just thinking, and worrying, and stressing out for what ultimately amounts to less than nothing at all, in the end.
And it’s always around this time that something out there starts making an unholy racket and, on very still nights, I can hear the dull echo of wood on wood across the street, seeming to move back and forth between West Road and Route 957, and I’m reminded of every single time Bobo made me laugh as I avoided work and other responsibilities by watching Finding Bigfoot all afternoon. And evening, And night. And very early morning. I know it’s just a function of the trees contracting as their sun-warmed trunks and branches shiver through the night, waiting for the transitional season to give way to a more consistent warmth and humidity in summer. But I love the idea that someone out there hears it, and hears Sasquatch, and I think what I love most, maybe, is the idea – however far-fetched – that an entire community of bipedal humanoid hermits live among us entirely on their own terms.
When they want to be seen, they are. When they don’t want to be seen, they aren’t.
I’m literally just making things up at this point but isn’t that what you do with an intangible entity you can’t confirm actually even exists outside your own imagination?
In my alternate reality, Sasquatch is good at some things that I could seriously improve at.
So, I’ve decided to spend some time thinking about how I can Squatch up my own lifestyle. How can I, I asked the universe, in my head, this morning, be more at ease within my own environment and my own skin, like my friend and role model, the Sasquatch?
And, after a theatrical sigh, and roll of its exhausted, omniscient eyeballs, the universe texted back this list of seven lessons to learn from Sasquatch. Like commandments. On stone tablets.
Except not real. And entirely borne of my own delusional thoughts and perceptions.
And not written on anything. Except for this website. Because I’m a hardened pandemic survivor, and basically an unofficial ancillary character on The Walking Dead at this point, and I’ve earned some right to just declare things without third party approval, I think.
And there’s only seven. Because I’m not God, y’all. Back off. Geez.
What Would Squatch Do?
1. Haters Gonna Hate. Don’t worry about the people who say you’re a figment of your own imagination. And that weirdo’s, on the corner, with the tinfoil hat, ranting about 5G cancer.
2. Anything is possible. You may be one of the smartest, most sublime mysteries of the human race. A literal enigma sent to show the world some redemptive truth that will elevate us to the next level of mental and emotional perfection. You could also be just another one of those weird, naked mole people who live just beyond the treeline of Chewbacca’s 1983 split level on a random cul-de-sac in the suburbs of some awful Kashyyyk bedroom community. You never know, man.
3. Get comfy in nature. Moss is soft and cool for a reason. Because we’re supposed to be outside, in the woods, on hot summer days looking for the perfect place to stop and rest and watch the real world unfold before we’re forced to return, in heavy steps, to our unnecessarily complicated and contrived human version of it. Being still, and quiet, in the woods, is good for us. We should do it more.
4. Live wildly. Systematically desensitize yourself to your device. Use the cleansing power of the full moon (it’s still good tomorrow, guys, I promise…there’s an aftertaste and you’re not too late to throw together a little ritual if you want) if you’re into it, to simplify the list of things you have to remember to stick in your pockets on your way out the door in the morning or you’ll die. Die. You will die without your cell phone. Die. I promise you won’t. Not right away, anyhow. It’s kind of like buying a potted violet in the garden center and then forgetting to water it for six months. It takes a long time. Right hand to God.
5. Defend your boundaries. At the end of the day, you’re running this dog and pony show. If you need curious backpackers attempting to set up temporary structures all up in your business to beat it, do not be afraid to tell them so. If you really need to.
6. But always stay curious. Remember, sometimes campers are fun to mess with, so you could also call a couple of your Sasquatch buddies up and have them come over, and bring wine, and play “Confuse the Humans While They Build Us a Campfire.” Either one is a good time.
7. Wander. Relentlessly. Never be afraid to go find out what’s up with that plastic box with Cousin Yeti’s name on the side. Sometimes they’re full of snacks. Or beer. Either way, explore your environment. And don’t apologize. Unless you’re pooping in someone’s lawn. Then apologize.
Every single time, you filthy animal.