Despite my current nature of being one that fears the natural world and nature: when I was younger, I was a very curious explorer of nature. I liked going to the park with my parents, I liked climbing trees, I liked running through the ditch next to my house and popping up out on the other side. My friends and I as children knew the concrete path created by artificial water control measures like veins that connected houses and us to the outside world where imaginations ran wild and we could be kings, queens, knights and adventurers.
One place I particularly loved to visit as a child was the lake. I grew up in North Texas and Joe Pool Lake was a common haunt for my family to visit. The lake was teeming with aggressive carp that were rumored to eat children and small dogs if they got too close. We’d feed the fish there, mostly bread which now I know is unhealthy but as a youth was more enamored by their voracity.
The drive to the lake was always a quiet one, passing field after field as back then North Texas was still mostly suburban aside from the hustle and bustle of Dallas. I spent a lot of time in the backseat of my parents’ car looking out of the window as fields yielded to streets and housing divisions.
Driving back from the lake one day, as I gazed out into one of those amber fields told of in American myth and legend, I saw something that didn’t make much sense to my eye as a kid. It was a figure in the grass. It was big. It was dark. It didn’t make much sense to me, really. It looked like it was sitting down and maybe my brain then just assumed it was a dog. Then it did something I surely did not expect as a child: it walked. The thing, that thing in the field walked like people do; on two legs. There was no animal that I knew of that did such a thing and my young mind mostly kept that memory hidden, safe somewhere from a reality that I could not process or understand.
As an adult, I still don’t really know what I saw. My memory is still pretty clear of that day despite all of the other things about my childhood that are now hazy with trauma. Did I see a large dog? Was it a person in a field? Was it just a fluke of the imagination? I’m not sure.
The study of creatures that may or may not be there is cryptozoology and since my days of watching MonsterQuest for hours in my college dorm room, I have been fascinated by the study of cryptids. I love the idea of creatures that may be real but also may not be but I’m more fascinated by the fact that they seem to be culturally universal. Almost all cultures have an upright hairy creature in the woods. Almost all cultures have a dragon. Almost all cultures have a blood-sucking or life force-sucking creature. What were these people seeing?
If I have to suspend logic for a moment and use that part of my mind and heart that is still somewhat childlike, I have to assume what I saw was a Bigfoot or similar creature. Such sightings aren’t unheard of back home but are rare due to the urban sprawl of the area. There is no reason for Bigfoot to run down Harry Hines Boulevard.
Personally, at the risk of sounding too crazy, I do think that such creatures can exist. Do I think that they are as prevalent as many…experts…would say? Absolutely not. While there are plenty of unexplored forests in the United States and around the world, I cannot imagine that with the urban settings that make up too many sightings of the paranormal that a population of anything that isn’t a raccoon, possum or coyote could survive in.
I would be more skeptical if in fact that was the first and only time I had seen a creature that I could not explain.
It was not.
I was coming home after a time with family and friends for the holidays. I was on a stretch of highway that connects almost all of Texas’ major cities. The drive is long and mostly uneventful if you don’t count people who willfully ignore the speed limit but it does remind drivers and passengers that some of Texas is in fact, still wild. For a moment as I passed a median, I saw something in the grass there. From the body shape, I assumed it was just a wild hog: we have those here. I assumed that the black mass in the grass was just a hog. I thought I saw a tail and tusks, I thought I saw coarse hair and a round body. I thought I just saw a hog. That was until it moved. It moved on all fours, sure but the way its body moved was so unlike a pig. Not a trot, not a gallop, it was almost cat-like the way it moved down that stretch of grass that broke up the concrete hell of highways and byways.
I didn’t know what to think of that moment, it happened so fast that I don’t think I had time to process it. When I told a friend, we all agreed that this was just one of those things that happens to people and as far as what I saw that time…I don’t have an answer. Was it a pig? Another Bigfoot? A wendigo? I don’t know and I can’t say the mystery has haunted me but the curiosity indeed has.
This spooky season, remember to keep your eyes open: you never know what you may see. Believe your eyes when you can; they do not always play tricks on you. And suspend your disbelief; there are indeed things out there that resist simple explanations.
Happy Halloween, dear readers.