Happy to be Here: Cryptids on the Loose

Published 11:11 am Saturday, October 7, 2023

Happy to be Here

Karen Bellenir

Welcome to the time of year when we delight in the mysteries that occupy the boundary of what we know and what we fear. Ghosts peek out and shout “Boo!” Witches mount their brooms. Storybook characters step off their pages. And cryptids wander among us.

“Cryptids” are creatures shrouded in unexplained experiences. They are the monsters that lurk in folklore. The ogres and fiends that bring spine-tingling magic to urban legends. The frightening thrill that goes bump in the night.

One of the best-known is the Loch Ness Monster, affectionately known as Nessie. Stories of a great serpent in Scotland’s Loch Ness date back to the 6th century. Documenting her reality has proved challenging. The Loch Ness Center gave an account of a recent search. Volunteers reportedly heard four loud noises (unrecorded due to a technical glitch) and saw a strange shadow. Insufficient evidence to confirm the monster’s existence, but enough to keep the sport of Nessie hunting alive and exciting.

Email newsletter signup

In 1966 and 1967, another cryptid, Mothman, made several appearances in Point Pleasant, West Virginia. Witnesses said he was as tall as a man, had a seven- to ten-foot wingspan, and looked out at the world through glowing, red eyes. Although some skeptics claimed he sounded a lot like a migrating sandhill crane, his reputation and infamy grew. The town responded by erecting a statue, and it now hosts an annual festival where costumed participants assure that sightings continue. I heard a rumor that Mothman made a merry appearance right here in Farmville last year at the Christmas parade.

The granddaddy of cryptids must surely be Bigfoot. Legends of giant, ape-like wild men live in many tales. In the Himalayans, they talk of Yeti or the Abominable Snowman. In Australia, the Yowie is said to lurk in the Outback. Native American tribes of the Pacific Northwest told stories of Sasquatch. Today, he is better known as Bigfoot. Sightings have been reported across the U.S. and Canada.

Bigfoot-type creatures typically prefer to hang out in wild places like untamed forests, impenetrable swamps, or forbidding mountains. Luckily for Farmville residents who want a glimpse of such a legendary character, a sociable Bigfoot has taken up residence at the corner of High Street and Second Avenue with his adoptive parents, Stephanie and Patrick Carwile.

Stephanie explains that Bigfoot chose to call their house his home in December 2022. She says “We are large supporters of the Southside SPCA/animal adoption and rescue efforts in the county and have all rescue animals in our home, so it was only natural when a Bigfoot chose to adopt us, that we were thrilled.”

The large fellow wasn’t just an anonymous Bigfoot. He has a personal name, S.Q. Watch.

According to Stephanie, S.Q. Watch followed the family tradition of welcoming a companion. She reports that he “adopted a cat in April of this year, and they’ve been inseparable since.”

S.Q. Watch is also a fashionable fellow. Stephanie explains, “His outfits are custom made by my insanely talented mom, who, among so many other creative endeavors, is an amazing seamstress — she made the wedding dresses for both me and my sister when we each got married. S.Q. Watch prefers to say he has a custom boutique out of Buckingham that tailor-makes all of his finery.”

The outfits started as a joke when the family teased Patrick about dressing their adoptee for Valentine’s Day. Afterwards, his mother-in-law provided a subscription to the “Squatch Box,” a monthly, custom-made outfit featuring a seasonal theme along with special touches reflecting the family’s traditions and celebrations.

Halloween is one of S.Q. Watch’s favorite holidays. Stephanie says, “We will be putting final touches on the theme over the next couple of weeks.” She hints, “S Q. Watch prefers a little flair for the dramatic,” but she wouldn’t provide details. Apparently S.Q. Watch “wishes to unveil the full surprise for All Hallow’s Eve.”

According to Stephanie, “In a world that can be so full of seriousness and tough times, being able to shine a little, weird light for ourselves makes us giggle. But, knowing it is also spreading smiles to others in our community truly makes our hearts happy.”

KAREN BELLENIR has been writing for The Farmville Herald since 2009. Her book, Happy to Be Here: A Transplant Takes Root in Farmville, Virginia features a compilation of her columns. It is available from PierPress.com. You can contact Karen at kbellenir@PierPress.com.