I was a Bigfoot kid. It wasn’t a full-on belief per se, but a matter of being completely open to the myth being real.
My elementary school library had a few books about mythological and legendary beasts. One such book was dedicated entirely to Bigfoot, and probably entitled as such as opposed to “Sasquatch”. I can’t recall how I heard of Bigfoot to begin with, but I couldn’t keep my hands off that book. It was full of pictures, enrapturing my young and marginally fearful imagination, even in grainy black-and-white.
The book painted more than a picture of a giant ape-man wandering the North American forests in secret. It presented enough evidence to establish myth, legend and lore. And it spanned nations – the Bigfoot of America; the Sasquatch of Canada; the Yeti of the Andes Mountains, all distant cousins. Along with the other books I saw, the stories and drawings and photos collectively crossed a line from laughable fancy into reasonable doubt.
I recall staring at the famous still-frame from the notorious Patterson-Gimlin film, years before seeing the full film sequence. In my mind the apparent Bigfoot was moving towards the cameraman, vaulting a giant log. The creature wasn’t just coming after the tracking party – it was coming towards me, moving with intent speed through the blurry, black-and-white grain of the image.
But this fear was anchored by rationality. And this ironically came from the books I’d read. Plenty of the stories and images seemed real enough, but others were plenty doubtful. The books would also share revealed hoaxes. All in all, for all the sense of fantasy-meets-fact that these tales instilled in my young mind, with it was partnered a healthy skepticism.
But skepticism does not entail disbelief. I simply preferred to remain open-minded to the idea of a ginormous hairy beast striding through the mountains and woods, and probably not very far off from where I lived in Canada.
As I grew up I lightly held onto this idea. And as most myths do, the idea evolved in my mind and heart. I became more and more aware of the unlikelihood of Bigfoot having ever existed. But my youthful hope circumnavigated this, rationalizing a possibility that coincides with another mythical beast.
Although much less ominous than the Patterson image of Bigfoot, the well-known 1934 Wilson photo of the Loch Ness Monster also fascinated me, as did the Monster’s legend. What makes “Nessie” unique from Bigfoot is its singular nature: whereas many a Sasquatch has been reported across Canada and America, one generally doesn’t hear accounts of multiple plesiosaurs haunting those Scottish waters (unless you live there, no doubt).
It’s harder to rationalize a single throwback water-dinosaur living for as many decades as Nessie was claimed to have. But honestly, as I deduced in adulthood, you don’t have to. Instead you can imagine that the Loch Ness Monster did live, for a normal lifespan, and that its last days coincided with a series of sightings that included its famous silhouetted snapshot. Ultimately its easier to picture a one-off rarity making a guest appearance from the unexplored and un-evolved ocean depths rather than a whole squad of aqua-saurs.
So how to explain multiple Bigfoots (Bigfeet?) stealthily stomping around the backwoods with nary a piece of solid evidence? Maybe you don’t have to. Maybe, like Nessie, there sadly aren’t any Sasquatch remaining. Maybe, like the dodo bird, they’ve gone extinct.
And maybe they did so – yes, coincidentally – just after being placed in the annuls of iffy history, captured on grainy film stock.
Let’s say that’s true. Clearly their legends haven’t died with them. And as silly as these beasts may seem at this point, it’s arguably even sillier to believe in them. But I don’t believe. Not in grainy old pictures, anyway. I’d rather believe in possibility. That’s what imagination is all about.
© 2017 Andrew Hall Writes