Each morning before I leave the house I write Hilary a note. Occasionally, these notes focus on major events—like the time the Alien Starfleet found Earth. There were a lot of exclamation points in that one—ALIENS!!! (Turns out, the alien spacecraft were StarLink satellites.)

The other morning my note contained: “I saw Bigfoot this morning. Or a Bigfoot.” (Obviously there is not just one Bigfoot—there has to be a whole population of Bigfeet.)
As the notes are short, I wasn’t able to unpack my whole Bigfoot story, which is this.
I saw a very large bipedal organism move quickly from one side of my neighbor’s house to the other. He (and I now know it was a he) moved toward me, then away from me. It was not quite pitch black, as I was looking at his silhouette, but it was dark, dark, dark.
It was also cold. This meant I had the hood of Mr. Parka (my parka) over my head and was pretty much only listening to and able to hear the gentle scraping of the interior against my head. The figure caught my eye, caused me to check my breath, and then stopped me dead in my tracks. As I stood

, suddenly breathing a lot more rapidly, I realized I was ten feet from a big patch of trees, currently the only thing separating me from the Bigfoot on the other side. I realized I was right where I did not want to be.

I wanted space. I walked as briskly as I could from the road to the path and then into the middle of an open field.
Eventually, I made it home unscathed.
My Yeti encounter led to thi

nking about exposure and what a strange and complex idea it is. In the winter, exposure is that consistently icy hand tapping on your shoulder. Exposure is being out in the open, and this being either a good thing or a very bad thing. Exposure is being in a really confined space, and this either being your salvation or your end. By way of two neighborhood examples: The cottontails around my house alternate their time between sitting outside on top of the snow, exposing themselves to the likes of coyotes and bobcats, and burrowing under the snow, exposing themselves to things like weasels. Currently completely unseen are the ground squirrels, who literally squirrel themselves away in subterra

nean bunkers, a great technique unless a badger finds them.
There is a certain kind of comfort in walking through or next to the woods… right until a Bigfoot darts out from a house and hides in those very trees. Then, give me a big, open field where I can see things sneaking up on me, and at least give myself the illusion I can make a run for it.
And here emerges that element so evident in people—the mental and emotional sides of our lives. While it might be great to be hiding in the trees, physically, how does it feel mentally? Is being out in the open comforting, or terrifying, regardless of any physical threat? How does any organism balance this see-saw, which is as much a fight against the elements as it is against oneself?
There is ongoing wonder and debate about what exactly non-human animals feel, which is why the easiest way to explore these ideas is in ourselves. My Bigfoot encounter was a particularly stark example of the various sides of the exposure coin.
It was also something else, too, that I am still working on. After convincing myself of all of the things I did and did not see, it took another two days to experience the same shadow. My question now is, “If the Bigfoot is you, is it real?”