By Robert Spearin
Up on Spruce Mountain, down there on Route 9,
There’s a place that’s forgotten by man and by time.
It’s a ten acre place where no one has gone,
With some cliffs and a cave and it’s own little pond.
And a cloud always hides it so no one would know
That way down in the forest, way down there below,
Lived a creature so horrid time left it behind,
A monstrous old big-foot, the last of his kind.
No one knew that he lived there high in those trees.
He liked it that way and he lived how he pleased.
Every once in a while he’d let out some sounds
That they heard down in Wesley and three other towns.
‘Couse no one would go there, they stayed right away.
A few men had tried and were gone to this day.
I guess this last happened ‘bout nineteen and ten,
And Big-foot had seen not a soul since back then.
Well he sure didn’t know it and neither did I,
But that would all change in the blink of an eye.
‘Cause I thought I would test out my skills and my luck
That November by huntin’ a Spruce Mountain buck.
So one cold gray morning, ‘bout seven below,
I trudged up the mountain through deep falling snow.
I’d walked through tough country, but nothing like this,
And the trail that I took sure had many a twist.
It turned and it writhed like an old crooked snake
‘Till I wasn’t quite sure which direction to take.
I was lost in the storm now but I didn’t mind,
‘Cause I just had to follow my tracks left behind.
And, thinking this over, I started to feel
This wasn’t so bad, not a really big deal.
Well, it wasn’t, till snow filled the last of my tracks.
I dared not go forward and could not go back!
As a woodsman I’d been in a pickle or two,
But this looked quite bad and I thought I was through.
Then just up ahead through a calm in the storm,
I saw something moving, some kind of a form.
Well it wasn’t a bear or a moose or a deer,
‘Cause it walked on two feet, I could see that quite clear!
So I grabbed my gun tightly and plowed right up through.
Just what I would find there, well God only knew!
I walked through some bushes, stepped ‘round a few trees
And the snow was so deep it went clear to my knees.
I stepped on a log, slipped all over the place,
And with my arms fanning air, I fell flat on my face.
I was struggling quite hard to get up off the ground
When I heard a low growling, a strange sort of sound.
I turned my head slowly and ten feet from me,
Was something I sure hope that you’ll never see!
Right there in the snow, just a bit over there,
Stood a strange snarling beast with all his teeth bared!
He stood and he looked and he glowered and glared.
Then he took a small step and he roared and he stared.
Well he looked eight feet tall or right around there
And his body was covered with shaggy, brown hair.
His big arms hung freely way down to his knees,
And his muscled up legs looked like two stumpy trees.
He stood and he looked and he sputtered and spat.
Then he jumped up and down and went this way and that.
He grabbed up a tree and gave out with a moan,
Threw it ‘least thirty feet from where it had grown.
I was scared half to death so I started to run,
Tripped over a stump, lost my hat and my gun.
I tried to get up but my legs wouldn’t go!
So I laid there and shook like a pup in the snow.
Now this beast must have thought that I took quite a fright,
‘Cause he stopped in his tracks to examine this sight!
He raised his thick eyebrows, looked left and looked right,
Then he threw back his head and he howled with delight.
He laughed and he laughed ‘till he fell to the ground,
Grabbed his sides and he rolled all around and around.
The big tears streamed down from this old ugly face,
And the pine cones and twigs flew all over the place.
Well he tore up the woods for five minutes or more,
And he bellowed and brayed ‘till his sides got all sore.
He tried to stop laughing. He tried and he tried.
Through his chuckling and chortling he snorted and cried.
Then all of a sudden he rose from the ground,
Looked straight over at me and, making no sound,
He walked right over to me and threw out his hand,
Grabbed my coat by the collar and forced me to stand.
“Well, now this is it. I am going to die,”
I thought to myself as we stood eye to eye.
My shaking legs dangled two feet off the ground.
And his black eyes were crossed in a terrible frown.
He stood this way staring for just a short while.
Then he threw me back down and broke out in a smile.
He had wanted to scare me and that he had done,
But he hadn’t quite guessed it would be such good fun.
So he patted my head, my shoulders and arm,
And I saw by his look that he meant me no harm.
This big old boy liked me and thank God for that,
For the others who came here had never gone back!
So we sat in the snow, right there side by side,
And the grin on his face looked a country mile wide.
With no warning he stood, threw me over his shoulder
And away we both went ‘round a cloud covered boulder.
Behind this big rock was a well hidden cave.
His home, I surmised, by the way he behaved.
I was still pretty scared and would just as soon hide,
But, with his arm ‘round my shoulders, we both stepped inside.
In the back was a bed made of spruce boughs and leaves,
Which I’m sure prob’ly kept him as warm as he pleased.
Had a stump for a table, a log for a chair,
It looked like he had all he needed right there.
Then I looked in a corner and there, on the floor,
Were the bones of the others who’d come here before.
He looked at the pile then glanced back at me,
Kind of searching for what my reaction might be.
But he wasn’t so bad, this ornery old cuss!
And I guess the big reason he’d made such a fuss
Was to scare away strangers and people like me
So they’d never come back and he’d always be free.
I knew there were other he’d killed in a rage,
A long time ago, but he’d mellowed with age.
All he seemed to want now was to show me his home,
So I thought that I’d show him some things of my own.
From my pack came a compass, a map and some cheese
And he looked at ‘em closely and seemed mighty pleased.
But the things he liked best and seemed most to admire
Were my matches and lighters and how they made fire.
So we gathered some branches and he chortled out loud.
His big hands were shaking and boy was he proud,
As he lit the small pile and the flickering flames gave
A light and a warmth throughout most of the cave.
He looked pretty pleased but I showed him some more.
Like how birch bark and saplings could make a good door.
Then we sat by the fire and we both looked around.
Seemed our friendship was growing by leaps and by bounds.
Then I thought how my friend, here up high on this hill,
Should have his own name so I settled on Phil.
I said it and said it, which he no doubt thought queer,
‘Till he knew it meant him and he got the idea.
Old Phil and I looked at each other right then
And we both knew we had in each other a friend.
So we sat by the fire, staring into the coals,
‘Till we both nodded off and we started to doze.
When I looked at my watch it was 6:44
And sunlight streamed down through the new birch bark door.
I looked to my left and glanced to my right,
But my big new-found friend was nowhere in sight.
I reached for the door to take a look ‘round outside
When it creaked and it snapped and it flew open wide!
I jumped back a bit, staring into the sun,
And there stood Phil with my hat and my gun.
He’d gotten up early to do this good deed
And he seemed mighty happy, quite happy indeed!
I gave him a hug as he stood by the door
And he hugged me right back, letting out with a roar.
We grinned at each other and hopped up and down.
And, locking our arms, we danced ‘round and ‘round.
We were both pretty pleased and we both let it show
As we slapped and we pushed back and forth in the snow.
Well this all seemed quite good and we hung out all day.
But I knew before long I’d be making my way,
Out of Phil’s wood and away from his home,
Back to the lake and a place of my own.
So I spent ‘bout an hour trying to make this point clear.
And when he knew that it meant that I couldn’t stay here,
He hugged me quite hard and looked up at the skies.
As the big tears welled up in his old worn out eyes.
So I gave him two lighters and tried to convey
That they should only be used when there came such a day
That he needed to see me and I should come by
To visit his cave up there in the sky.
So I gathered my stuff, headed out through the woods.
I was moving quite fast, ‘bout as fast as I could,
When I stopped and looked back and there was old Phil
Coming right down there towards me, down over the hill.
I looked for a minute then held up my hand
And I told him to stay there, just stay there and stand.
He watched for awhile, then making no sound,
He turned and he walked off with shoulders bent down.
His big heart was broken but he knew I must go.
And he looked pretty sad as he trudged through the snow.
I watched and I thought, “Don’t worry old friend.
It won’t be too long and I’ll be back again.”
Down the mountain I went I went, hell-bent for the camp.
Made it just before dark, went in, lit the lamp
And I sat there just thinking, “My God, was this true?
Did you just meet a Big-foot? Did this happen to you?”
So time pasted on slowly, maybe three weeks or more,
And rising one day, I stepped out through the door.
It was six in the morning. There wasn’t a sound
And I, with my coffee, stood looking around.
I was thinking of Phil and how he must be
And scolding myself for not going to see!
So I scampered inside, packed a few things and then,
I hiked up Spruce Mountain to see my old friend.
So we visit each year, maybe eight times or so,
Could be ninety degrees or twenty below.
We really don’t care, we just have a great ball,
And that’s all that matters to us after all.
So he’s still up there now living wild living free.
For a fella like him that’s the way it should be.
But I wouldn’t suggest you go up there to see,
‘Cause you just might not be quite so lucky as me!
Robert Spearin lives in Bradford. This is his second published poem in the Northwoods Sporting Journal.
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