log: new year


3,833-639,083: 1,024(+/-??): 69-5,694(0.89%): 83.9%–36% 

Some of you may recall that I saw a cryptid in the woods. Rather, a few but who’s counting? Anyway, a friend helped me and suggested a creature. After looking at some video, I think –I’m about 99.9% sure– that I have an identification. It’s a fucking raccoon dog. Probably pups, about four months old or so. Teen raccoon dogs. NOT A FUCKING CAT!!!

The picture I took is, of course, much less clear than this footage from national geographic but, yeah, that’s what I saw. I wasn’t sure until I saw some video. I had to actually see these things move. Their movement stuck with me — it was so strange. They have such long legs then move so close to the ground. The ones I saw looked like the pups.

What an odd and special experience. I’m not sure I’ll see them again but I have seen them.

And, after writing my post about the whole thing, I realized that I was wrong about something. I think I said it was my first time seeing an animal I could not identify and having a cryptid experience. That’s not true. I remember another incident. When I was a kid.

We were fishing. I wasn’t. Father and some other people were. Anyway, they reeled in this fish. Now, I grew up fishing. I knew the different sorts of fish one might catch. And this fish?

It was goddamn odd. It was not one of those fish. No one knew what it was.

The thing that bugged me at the time was that everyone was fine with not knowing. They just tossed it back in and never wondered about that damn fish again. More than the weird fish, that sort of indifference bothered me. Like, surely, you don’t just catch an unidentified fish and just shrug it off. It’s not the sort of thing that happens every day. It’s not like this was deep sea fishing either. It’s not like we didn’t know fish. On top of that, I was made to feel like some sort of hopeless eccentric for even wondering what that fish was. Even mentioning that fish seemed somehow taboo. The whole thing made me feel crazy. And that fucking fish bothered me for years. Always in the back of my head — what was that fish?!

One day, years later, I saw that fish again. It was in a tank in a Chinatown fish-market. I can’t remember what it was called. Some sort of carp. It must have been an invasive species.

Seeing it again, well, it was a relief. Having an unknown fish and a sort of mundane cover-up in your history? Well, one begins to wonder if they’ve cracked up.

And the thing about fish is fish are goddamn weird looking. We’re used to looking at them so we hardly even notice how weird they are but, when you pull a new fish out of the water? They look so prehistoric and monstrous. It’s almost like we invented the word and category of “fish” just to shield our minds from the primeval horror of the things. Say “fish” and try not to think about it. Say “fish” and see “fish” and don’t actually look in their eyes. Their fucking eyes. Their mouths. There’s a reason our ancestors ran out of the oceans!

Anyway, a fish was bad enough. I’m happy I won’t be going through all that with land mammals seen near a major urban center. Raccoon dogs. Tanuki. It’s nice to know. It’s also nice to have that period of not knowing. The cryptid experience. Highly recommend it. Get out into the woods at night. Have your own!

And I suppose it’s customary to have a year in review thing.

To be frank, I can’t even really remember last year. Like, I can but it’s all a little disordered and disconnected. A series of incidents and images that can just be moved from one month to another, to the year before, without making much of a difference. I lack the progress through time type of feeling one needs to make such a post. Pretty much the only thing I can clearly associate with a time is that I’ve given up on summer suits here. That happened in the summer. When it was hot af. Other than that?

Other than that? Did I start going into the woods at night this year? Was it last year? I can’t remember. It’s written down somewhere. I can’t be arsed to look. In what order did I take my classes? Does it matter? I think this is the year I learned to hear and see deer in the dark, and the forest has continued to teach me and reveal itself to me. Now, some nights, the deer stalk me through the woods. I think they must recognize my sound and scent.

I do know that these walks through the woods at night never would have happened without a pandemic. These walks have become a really valued part of my life. I’m not sure when that started exactly. I remember the first few times doing it. The fear. The fear fading. The sounds I thought were cats that turned out to be deer – the increase in knowledge changing my understanding and memories. The different moods of the woods. The pullups.

Anyway, we’re into another year. I hope you see a cryptid.

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