Thankful Thursday XXXIX – Sasquatch, And Other Things We Don’t Know

This Thankful Thursday (or Saturday) I’m thankful to not be a Know-it-all…although some who’ve known me might dispute that assertion! I’m actually glad no one’s a “know-it-all”. I’m glad there are still things we, as a species, haven’t figured out yet. thankful for mystery. After all, who doesn’t love a good Agatha Christie story? I’m glad there are things that are like that for all of us, and that unlike her books, haven’t yet been wrapped up neatly with a “that solves that” answer.

I thought of that this week while reading a book about American parks. The author categorized a couple of national parks – Congaree and Crater Lake as “mystery.” Fair enough. Neither gets a lot of traffic and both have an air of mystery around them. Crater Lake is said to be the deepest lake in the U.S., but sits hidden in the mountains. It took decades to be found, even after the Oregon Territory had been settled and rumors of its existence abounded. Furthermore, there’s a huge log that floats around it sticking upright for totally unexplained reasons. Congaree is a deep, floodplain swamp, ancient cypress trees growing out of the murky water. Bugs, Water Moccasins and alligators abound, and trails are few so not surprisingly, so too are casual day-tripping sightseers. Adding to the mystery of the place are occasional reports suggesting that maybe, just maybe, two of the rarest types of birds in the Americas still live there – the fabled Ivory-billed Woodpecker and the diminutive Bachman’s Warbler. Both have always been, by most accounts rare and hard to find, preferring just the inhospitable flooded forests that Congaree offers. The tiny warbler, a bright yellow little songbird that eats bugs, hasn’t been seen for decades. The woodpecker, on the other hand, is large, showy…but wary of humans at best. It was last heard from in 2005 when some blurry video in an Arkansas swamp seemed to show one fly by, backed up by disputed eye-witness sightings there. If either still exists is debatable, but nature-lovers like myself live in hope that they are…perhaps in Congaree’s dark recesses.

They’re mysteries not too unlike the “great” American one – Sasquatch. The famed Bigfoot has been reported since Europeans began to settle the Pacific coast forests…and long before by the local Natives who had various names for it including “Sasquatch”. For over a hundred years people have wondered if they exist, and gone out searching for them, with little to show so far. A few videos which might have been faked, suggestively huge footprints in mud, weird unearthly screaming sounds in the forest. One wonders why, with the settlers love of guns, someone along the way hasn’t shot one, inethical as that might be, or hit one with a car. Likewise though, one wonders how there could be so many similar stories through the pre-internet decades of big, unknown ape-like creatures from Montana to B.C. if something we don’t yet know is out there. It’s a mystery.

UFOs, the Loch Ness Monster, what’s out on the outer limits of the universe… no one really knows yet. That’s exciting to the scientific part of me…and comforting to the spiritual part that likes to think that no matter how smart people are, we’re still dwarfed by something bigger than all of us…something that has the answers but will only share them when we’re ready. Til then, if we want to know, all we can do is load up on bugspray and head out into the forest primeval.

Yetis And Life’s Other Little Mysteries

About a decade back, I briefly wrote a few blogs entitled “Things I Don’t Get.” Life’s little mysteries. Things like people’s fascination with zombies. Or their fascination with the Kardashians. “One day last month,” I wrote about the latter, “while in line I counted (Kim Kardashian’s) pouty mug on seven magazines (by the cashier)…the one proclaiming ‘Kardashian World!’ did make me think the retailer genius for also putting Tylenol at the check-out for subsequent impulse buys.” I was a bit snarky ten years ago apparently. Little mysteries. Of course, big mysteries always interested me too. UFOs. That missing Malaysian jet. And Bigfoot.

On the one hand, it would seem like if there were giant ape-man sasquatches out there in our dense forests, some gun-loving settler would have shot one and had it in their den by now, or a tractor trailer doing 80 would have hit one. I mean, dozens of people get run down by cars, can Bigfoots be that much smarter than us? But on the other hand, there are so many convincing reports of them, most from the pre-internet era. One doesn’t imagine Natives of coastal B.C. would have had much chance to talk to and share oral stories with the ones in the Appalachians, yet both have similar Bigfoot-like creatures in their histories.

I thought of those pieces not long ago when driving behind a big pick-up. Of course, in the decade since, there’ve been no shortage of things I don’t get. People falling off cliffs playing “Pokemon”. About half the politicians elected across the globe. Ice coffee. The Simpsons still being made about fifteen years after anybody I know stopped watching. And Yeti stickers.

This Dodge truck was shiny and of behemoth proportions, looking more or less straight from the factory…except for the Yeti sticker in its back window. Now as odd as this was, what is odder is that I see all kinds of vehicles around with those stickers. At first when I encountered one I was hoping it might signify the car was being driven by a Bigfoot. You know, some people put Italian flags on their window to signify their origin, maybe this driver was doing the same. Certainly his fast acceleration and lane-changes without benefit of turn signals suggested that could be the case. Humans on the road should be able to drive better than that. But sadly as they turned off, I could see an ordinary driver of adult human proportions and child-like lack of motor skills. Subsequent encounters with Yeti-stickered cars, trucks and vans alike have shown similar lack of content that would interest crypto-zoologists.

I’ve never been one to want to decorate a vehicle with lots of “bumper stickers”, be they on the bumper, window or any other part. I’ve seen too many people working too hard on scraping off “Wassup” stickers that didn’t seem quite as hilarious anymore or “I HEART Bill Cosby” ones which unintentionally did. Besides, I figure if someone wants to know me, let them talk to me. But I usually can understand the rationale for most stickers. A car with Texas plates but Acadia National Park and Everglades stickers; probably a person who likes to travel and nature. “My kid is a honor student at Washington Pre-school and Kindergarten”; proud and possibly delusional parent. A brother-in-law served in the military and has small but proud Marine logo stickers on his. I get that. And of course, I might assume quite different things about someone in a Prius with a “Bernie!” sticker than someone in a Ford F-150 with “Trump 2020” proudly emblazoned on the window. They at least tell us something about the people in that auto. But a Yeti?

This I don’t get. For those unfamiliar, Yeti, besides being the Asian name for a Bigfoot which may or may not exist, is the brand name of a popular line of travel mugs. They are usually metal, and by all reports very good. A cold drink stays cold in them, a hot one, hot. But why advertise them on your car?

The logo itself isn’t interesting. There’s no clever little sasquatch worked in, nor any bright colors. Just the word in big, bold white font. At least, Apple, say by comparison has a colorful interesting, almost decorative logo. And saying you’re an Apple fan perhaps exudes an air of “cooldom” or “superiority”. Hard to imagine the same is true of someone based on their choice of what to put their morning commute coffee in. After all, the cups and mugs start at about $20…expensive for a travel mug but well within almost anybody’s budget. It’s fair to say that if you can afford a car and the gas for it, you can put together the cash for a Yeti mug should you want to. So that can’t be it. If prestige is what they’re going for, one might as well put a Coca-cola logo on there instead to signify you will pay that extra dollar a case for what’s inside your Yeti. No Walmart-brand cola for me, it would scream to the masses!

Maybe one day people will yawn and ask “Who?” when somebody starts talking about a Kardashian. Maybe someday those TV explorers will actually find a bigfoot out for a stroll instead of just hearing mysterious growls in the forest or seeing bark oddly ripped off tall trees. Maybe one day we’ll know where those other socks go in the washing machine. And maybe one day someone will explain why they want to put a $4 sticker for a $20 item on their car. Then again, maybe some things we just were never meant to know.

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