Thursday, October 6, 2011

Is Bigfoot really Mommy's boyfriend?

This is what my 5-year-old son asked my husband after my family had gathered to hear my mysterious event of the day.

My day started like most typical days. ...Having done my chores, worked on some creative projects (which included finishing up a dog portrait), had a customary phone conversation with one of my besties, I decided to sit down at the computer to do stuff.  I have an outdoor audio monitor that allows me to hear every detail of what's going on outside my property (including a half a mile down out each way). And I'm not exaggerating when I say I can hear every detail. I can actually hear the snow lit down in a heavy snow storm! This can be a good thing and a bad thing depending on who or what is making noise outside at the time. Some of my favorite sounds, that I’ve come to look forward to, is the rainfall, crickets, frogs and screech owls that sing to each other in the night. Many times I would hear random sounds from one of our dogs or cats. Some of the not-so-amusing sounds are dogs barking and the neighbors bickering off in the distance. For the sake of my sanity, I'm content to say that I‘ve learned to block much of this unnecessary racket out.
Part of this story is heartbreaking and involves the death of our dog that had happened a week prior and the absence of his presence. (I’ve written more about that in an earlier blog post.) Someone from the neighboring property took a high powered rifle, aimed through the trees and fence and shot our sweet Jakers as he stood in our backyard. I've lived on this property for over 36 years and we have always had a dog living in our backyard.  One of the more joyously predictable noises I had come to hear was our dog Jakers. …Thankfully, he rarely barked. He saved that for all serious warnings. What I characteristically heard from him was his breathing and the soft patter of his steps, as he would walk around in our backyard. As I said, I expected to hear him anytime the monitor was on and that was a comfort in my soul and would always make me smile. And now, before I can continue, I need to take a break, take a deep breath and wipe my tears away… I miss him so… For several weeks after his death the monitor was eerily void of all sounds. That was mysterious within its self. Nevertheless, I had continually caught myself inadvertently listening for him in the monitor. The silence was heartrending. What the silence did was to cause me to listen harder, I’m sure.
And on this day, starting about 11:30am, I began to hear what sounded like hammering from next door. What you have to know, in order to understand the occurrences better, is that by this time there were no neighbors. They had been evicted. Except for the neighbors to our right, we don’t have any other houses nearby.  Not unless you want to take a hike down a dirt road across several creeks and onto the main road. And, although there is a rental property next door, it is still a distance a way, separated by a deep hollowed ravine with a babbling brook at the bottom. I dismissed the banging, thinking it was the landlord of the property doing some repairs. For the entire two hours I heard the non-stop banging of what sounded like a sledgehammer. I continued on with my stuff... I kept working until about 1:30pm.
I decided that I wanted to take a little catnap about this time. I was getting a little annoyed by this time that the work next door hadn't taken a break. I decided to go outside to feed the cats and see what my neighbor was working on. To my surprise there was no one next door and the sound was not coming from there at all but coming from directly behind my home just at the edge of the mountains above an old road. My first reaction was anger. You should understand that I was still in deep state of mourning for Jakers and I was in a severe defensive state.  Without thinking I marched up the dirt road in my flip-flops to harass whoever it was back there. I need to reiterate the fact that I did not stop to reason this out. This had been a constant banging that went on for over two hours straight! And this was no trivial banging either. It sounded like someone taking a small log and pounding it against a good size tree! Who would do that? Yet, I didn't think about any of these things. I marched on! I arrived at the point where the banging was the loudest (without leaving the road). It was an area of the road that went straight up a bank that was visually and physically dense... covered in Mountain Laurels and Canadian Hemlock. I estimated the sound to be about 20ft away from me on the other side of the thicket. I could hear the quiet movement and the loud methodic whacks did not stop. . I pulled the home phone out of my pocket and dialed my husbands cell. I yelled very loudly that I was calling the sheriff’s department (except that I called my hubby instead).  At this moment the sounds stopped (after almost 2 ½ hours). Now, I also have to let you know that I bought this home and land from my parents and had been living on this property since 1975. We walk our property frequently. Even in the winter. I remember playing in these woods as a young girl, too. And I do recall hearing similar sounds when I roamed those mountain forests behind the house. At the time, I didn't question it and probably dismissed it as trees banging together. I proceeded to tell my husband what I was hearing and as I was telling him the banging started again!!! So, I put my hubby on speakerphone.  He heard it too. The first question out of his mouth was (and you have to be aware that he is a former cop), “what the hell are you doing up there? Go back to the house!” Jarring me to my senses, I hurried down the road to the house and sat at the window overlooking the back yard, waiting for my kids to get home from school. 
SW Virginia Forest

The banging continued until almost 3pm and stopped. And then again, there was nothing…  I waited to see if anyone would walk out of the mountains down the drive. The way we are situated on the ridge is much like a castle fortress with two deep ravines shooting straight up the mountain. As I mentioned the hollowed ravines are deep and sheer. The one that separates us from our neighbor is about a 35 ft drop on either side. The one on the other side is even steeper and more narrow (abt. 50 or more drop). Except for our road that comes straight up we also have what is more like a cliff in the front that is a 25 ft. drop to the creek below. The only way out of the mountains behind us is to go back up to the top of the mountain and follow the ridge out or to come down our road. I waited until about 4pm and didn't see or hear anything. I drove down to get my kids off the bus, still very unnerved. I waited until my husband got home about 5:30pm to tell them what had happened. My kids were visibly worried about what could be back there. Remember, they were still petrified at the fact that their best pal had been shot right in our own back yard! So, my husband cheerfully stated that it was probably mommy’s boyfriend Bigfoot.  Well, that made things worse. Now, my children were afraid of rogue neighbors AND legendary beasts in the back yard that once had been their refuge and sanctuary. 

That evening, my husband and I went up to the place where I had stood and I directed him toward the place I saw the movement and heard the noises.  Although he didn’t find any beasts it was what he didn’t find that was interesting. He didn’t find any trees that were crossed together or that had fallen down across one another. He didn’t find any signs of rubbings from a buck. No deer, human or bear prints in the exposed earth around the tree. What he did find was a very wide dug out spot under a Tulip Poplar. The Tulip Poplar was about 1 ½ feet around. Tulip Poplars have very light gray/white smooth bark. On the short side of the tree, about 6 ½ feet up the tree where impressions in the bark. It wasn’t broken but you could definitely see the impressions from what looked like a log of about 4-5 inch round. The log or anything else that could have been used to make the marks was nowhere to be found. There were leaves piled around the area and several areas that had exposed packed earth. He then took a long hike through the rest of the property and found nothing unusual. He met me down at our barn and collected a multitude of different sticks, axes, metal poles, etc. and we took them up to the tree to test them. Nothing had a specific loud ping like I had heard until he used a log from the woodshed that was freshly cut and was about 5 inches around and about 4 foot long. The minute I heard that sound, the hair on my body stood on end! I sing duet in a local group and have a knack for finding the right pitch, tone so I was confident that what I heard was accurate.  There was no mistaking it. 

It's been over a year now. I no longer anticipate the sweets sounds of dear Jakers in the monitor, but I'm certain they will be burned in my memories forever. Although, I still listen closely for those mysterious banging sounds that are burned into my subconscious mind.  
What could reach that far up a tree with that size of log and beat for over 3 hours straight.
Why would they/it?
Could a deer or bear or other Eastern North American creature manage such a task? 
Why continue to beat on a tree with me standing just a stones throw away?
If were a human, what were his/her intentions?
They could have run from the woods and grabbed me. Being in flip-flops, I wasn't able to run and no one was around to help. 

If it were a wild native animal, why didn't it run away when it heard me or try to attack? OR do ANYTHING other than beat on that tree???
If it were trees bumping there would be signs. No fallen or nearby trees. And what would make a tree bang for only three or so hours with no wind?
Why haven't I heard this sound before and since? ...Other than in my childhood.
It obviously chose to leave deep in the mountains rather than taking the easy way out down the road. If it wasn't afraid of me then it would be afraid to walk right out past me. 

And the final and most important question of all... "Is Bigfoot really Mommy's boyfriend?" 
Inquiring minds want to know! And I've been pondering this ever since it happened with no clear answers.

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