The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Outdoors

November 17, 2012

Monster Invasion

Hungry beasts always seem to show up during severe weather

For the last several days, in which I have been cooped up because of the snow, there has been a monster living on my front porch. It arrived the day before the Sandy snowstorm, and at the time of the writing of this column was still with us.

The beast weighs over 200 pounds and makes the most awful noises. It burps and whines and gurgles at all hours of the day and night, regardless of whether you are trying to sleep or concentrate on more important things than monsters. It uses its dreadful moan to attract others, and since its arrival, I have heard several new monsters on the neighbors’ front porches, in their back yards and driveways, moaning their dreadful call. In the quiet of the evening, when the winds die down and it should be a peaceful, quiet time, the monsters can be heard humming and whining as they guzzle their food.

The worst thing about our monster is it’s always hungry. I have spent countless hours this past week running to-and-fro fetching food for the monster. I am not alone, either. I see others on the roads and at the stores gathering food in red containers, hoping they have bought enough to last until the monsters go away. There is always talk of a monster food shortage, and resourceful monster owners make sure they fill up large containers just in case.

I have seen these monsters before in other parts of the country, but I have never seen them so prevalent in our neck of the woods. You would expect to find them in remote, wilderness areas where people rarely live and frequent only for short periods of time. I have even come to expect them in a backcountry elk camp in, say, Montana, or along an overnight camping spot beside a wild river. In some occasions, having a monster around camp can be beneficial. It simply seems odd to have these foul-smelling, loud, obnoxious beasts invade our quiet little towns and neighborhoods to sit arrogantly beside our homes.

I am not positive, but I think the monster invasion started here locally last summer with the freak storm most refer to as the derecho. It was then that I started to see and hear more and more people talking about them. In the checkout lines at the store or at the post office, I would overhear normal, sane people talking about their monsters, and some would even inquire as to where they might find one for themselves.

The monster talk was so popular the last couple of days that even the radio stations were taking calls from people with first-hand accounts of places where these monsters could be picked up. Apparently, people were searching for and even placing their names on waiting lists for the slim chance to drag home their very own noisy, greasy monster.

I guess there are benefits of having a monster on your front porch during a long, extended power outage. There is some comfort in knowing that while it chugs and spews its foul odor into the air, you can rest peacefully within the confines of your castle.

I hope by the time you read this the snow has melted, the power is back on and the monsters have hibernated to the garages and basements so that we can get back to enjoying the outdoors. I, for one, desperately need some time in the fresh mountain air. You can probably tell.

As for now, I’ll keep feeding the monster until the lights come on.

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