happenings, Willford eventually quit hisrnhomestead and moved away horn thernarea of the San Juan River where it crossesrnfrom Colorado into New Mexico.rnThe Indians in the vicinity have storiesrngoing back six or seven centuries about arnmysterious being inhabiting the mountains,rnand the English translation for thernname of one Native American village lyingrnsouth of New Mexico’s northern borderrnis The Place Where the Giant ManrnStepped.rnSeveral websites exist to explore thernphenomenon that was the object ofrnMcllhenny’s, Hawkins’s, and my expeditionrnlast summer, one of them postingrnwhat purport to be eyewitness—and earwitnessrn—accounts of encounters withrnthe creature. While some of these storiesrnare of dubious credibility, the large majorityrnring true, not least for the timid naturernof the reporting which, so far fromrnsuggesting a desire to gain attention,rnpoints instead to the fear of self-exposurernand ridicule. Ninety percent of these almostrndaily communications fromrnaround the United States describe experiencesrnthat occurred over roughly a 30-rnyear period, from the early 1960’s to thernearly 1990’s; a few relate to happeningsrnas distant as the 1940’s, while accounts ofrnincidents within recent weeks or monthsrnare posted every several days. Reports belongingrnto the first category are filed byrninformants who, after maintaining a prudentrnsilence for years, feel emboldenedrnto come forward when an hospitable butrnimpersonal forum is made available tornthem. In 99.9 percent of a// reports, pastrnor present, witnesses are careful to providernfirst names only, while requestingrnthat their identities be kept confidentialrnto avoid damage to their reputations,rneven their livelihood. “I know what Irnsaw,” the typical statement goes, “but Irnam a respected professional living in arnsmall town and I’m afraid my businessrnwould suffer if it were known I consideredrneven the possibility of such a thing.”rnAlmost more interesting, in fact, thanrnthe mystery itself is the response it provokesrn—a narrow gamut of emotion rangingrnfrom intrigued skepticism to half-angeredrnembarrassment. The more openrnreaction has been a willingness to admitrnevidence of a North American bipedalrnmonster provided by a former memberrnof the Lewis and Clark expedition, whilernTheodore Roosevelt, in his book WildernessrnHunter, recounts a narrative toldrnhim by an old hunter whose trappingrnpartner was killed in the mid-1800’s by arnmysterious creature in the mountainrncountry of southern Idaho. Dr. JohnrnNapier, at one time director of the primaternbiology program at the Smithsonianrnand later the holder of an equivalentrnposition at Birbeck College, Universityrnof London, after conceding that “The visionrnof such creatures stomping barefootrnthrough the forests of north west America,rnunknown to science, is beyond commonrnsense,” adds, “Yet reason arguesrnthat this is the case.” Don Abbott, oncerncurator of archaeology at the provincialrnmuseum of British Columbia, has writtenrnthat, while not a “believer,” he is neverthelessrn”aware of certain phenomenarnwhich have not yet been adequately explainedrnif these rather unlikely creaturesrndo not, in fact, exist.” And in the earlyrn1970’s two highly respectable papers onrnboth sides of the Atlantic —the WallrnStreet Journal and the Sunday Times—rnprinted lengthy articles, prominently displayed,rnexamining the claims for theirrnexistence, and against it.rnStill, far more common than the skepticalrnbut interested response is the angry,rnindignant one, typified by Dr. Napier’srnthen colleague at the Smithsonian, Dr.rnT.D. Stuart, who summarily dismissedrnreports of “unlikely creatures” as “bosh,”rnand the small-town ridicule anticipatedrnby anonymous contributors to the Internetrnwebsite. Taken together, these reactionsrnsuggest how much the “sophisticated”rnscientific mind has in commonrnwith the Main Street one—how much,rnindeed, it shares with the peasant mentality,rnboth of them given to rejectingrn”superstition” and embracing it, byrnturns. The difference between scientificrnand popular orthodoxy is less than it isrncommonly supposed to be, as the answerrnto both orthodoxies is at once simplerrnand more difficult than the liberal orthodoxyrnimagines. The obvious response byrnthe small-town professional charged withrncredulity—or worse —is, of course, “I amrnan educated man and a professional,rntrained to observe empirically, deduce,rndraw conclusions, and — above all—tornthink for myself; the retort by the simplernman to the learned scientist should be, “Irnwas there, I know what I saw and heard,rnand I don’t give a damn what you thinkrnabout it.”rnThe inclination of the uneducatedrnman to display gumption and independencernof mind a good deal more oftenrnthan the educated one does speaks volumesrnabout modern mental habits andrnassumptions. Chesterton (in Orthodoxy)rnsays of the ordinary man that “He hasrnalways cared more for truth than forrnconsistency. If he saw two truths thatrnseemed to contradict each other, hernwould take the two truths and the contradictionrnalong with them.” That, unfortunately,rnis not scientific thinking, nor isrnit middle-class thinking—the two being,rnessentially, one and the same type of ratiocinafion.rnA single-minded and (literally)rndeadly seriousness lies behind both ofrnthem: Ideological as well as practical inrnorigination, it is wholly materialist inrnboth senses of the word. Seriousness,rnChesterton well knew, is not a virtue. “Itrnwould be a heresy, but a much more sensiblernheresy, to say that seriousness is arnvice. It is really a natural trend or lapserninto taking oneself gravely, because thatrnit is the easiest thing to do.” Seriousnessrnputs not only ourselves at the center ofrnour lives, but our experience at the centerrnof all experience, our mode of perceptionrnand reasoning at the centerrnof cosmic consciousness. Whereasrn(Chesterton again), “Life is not an illogicality;rnyet it is a trap for logicians. It looksrnjust a little more mathematical and regularrnthan it is; its exactitude is obvious, butrnits inexactitude is hidden; its wildnessrnlies in wait.”rnIs it really possible to suspect that thernape-man or man-ape believed in by tensrnor scores of generations of Indians in thernPacific Northwest actually exists? It isrnnot only possible, it is harmless, and evenrnhealthy. (“As long as you have mysteryrnyou have health; when you destroy mysteryrnyou create morbidity.” —CKC)rnOne sympathetic reader of this columnrntold me my story “Something in Colorado”rnstopped just short of invitingrnridicule. To which I replied that thernfacts were as I recorded them—nothingrnmore, nothing less—and that I urged myrnaudience only to draw their own conclusions.rnThere is no reason for anyone tornapologize for the facts (unless, of course,rnhe is responsible for them). But there isrnno reason either for him to be embarrassedrnby mystery (unless he put it there,rnand I didn’t). The world, indeed, has alwaysrnseemed to me to be a ftmdamentallyrnmysterious place, and if thinking sornmakes me one of those unashamed imseriousrnpersons instead of the ashamedrnand serious one I know I ought to want torntry to be, then perhaps I really should berncommitted to the American equivalentrnof what was London’s Hanwell, soonerrnthan the little man in the white coat canrnsay “Sasquatch.” crn50/CHRONICLESrnrnrn