Monday I had the pleasure of visiting Big Lagoon School up in Northern California. I told the kindergarteners the story of my grandpa seeing Bigfoot. Began the tale with me riding shoats (that’s baby pigs to you city folk), wove in the pancake eating contests Grandpa and I had on the rare mornings he was home and not out logging near Peckwan, and ended with Grandpa and Bud Ryerson’s Bigfoot encounter. Since I wasn’t sure how much a five year old knew about Bigfoot I began the story with a question.
“How many of you know who Bigfoot is?”
Eyes lit up, almost every hand in the room shot into the air and waved frantically. Stories poured from little mouths.
Now, I admit, the audience was salted a little. Some of these beautiful children were from the small, wooded towns of Klamath and Orick, most of the kids’ parents troop around the woods hunting and fishing, some undoubtedly pursue this interest around Hoopa and Weitchipec.
But, still, that ought to tell the doubters something. It sure as heck ought to tell the publishing world something! Hint! Hint! Hint!
People love the legend of Bigfoot. In a world where everything is politically correct and we’re required to fill out a form as long as Bigfoot’s arm in order to hunt and fish in waters that belong to We the People, a wild critter roaming the woods, a creature almost exactly like us, except with more fur and much more freedom? Why that’s simply intoxicating.
My novel, Bigfoot Blues, isn’t just about Bigfoot, of course. Not really. But, boy, oh boy, is it ever about people believing in the freedom of wilderness, about each of us finding our own unique way in a maze of judgement and expectations. Not stepping carefully into the wide, deep prints of those who love us and have foraged ahead. No, not following blindly. But neither disregarding the path cleared by those who’ve gone before. Bigfoot Blues is about discovering our own way through the forest of life.
Looking into the faces of those children, I couldn’t help but believe that with the help of their wonderful school and its committed teachers and principal, with the love and support of their parents, those Kindergarteners will blaze a new trail that lights up the woods. I hope some of them become writers. I really want to share that journey.