Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Dateline Woodstock
Now generally we don't think of Vermont as having a lot of monsters. But as it turns out, our safe little state is home to a whole zoo-full of incredible creatures. Champ is here, of course, and he, she, or it, has many aquatic cousins. Like Memphre in Lake Memphremagog. And "Elmo" in Lake Elmore. And of course Crystal Lake's little known "Ms Crystal".Then there are the mythical land dwellers.Down south we've got "The Bennington Monster". Up in the Northeast Kingdom, there's 0ld Slipperyskin. And folks tell me something extraordinarily weird is lurking on Black Mountain in Addison.But, in honor of this special time of year, I was determined to find something truly out of the ordinary. So I started asking around. Most people looked at me askance, but I'm used to that. Finally, I spoke to my friend Howard Coffin, who answered without hestation and in just one word: "Cronchers". Turned out Mr. Coffin is something of an expert on Cronchers, having written about them on several occasions.So today I want to introduce you to a real rarity, Vermont's so-called "Sidehill Croncher".These elusive monstrosities are said to reside within the deep, remote, almost forgotten Chateauguy wilderness near Bridgewater. Considered very dangerous, Cronchers are an unlikely hybrid: part deer, part wild boar. According to Mr. Coffin's description published by The Rutland Herald in 1966 - and I quote - "the Croncher has... short tusks, dark dirty brown hair, weighs at least 100 pounds, [and] has hooves with prominent dew claws." Unquote.It seems that Cronchers are well adapted to Vermont's hilly landscape as their legs are shorter on the right side than on the left - an adaptation that allows them to graze more comfortably on steep hillsides. Because of this evolutionary peculiarity, they must always travel in a counter-clockwise direction... and would fall over if they turned around. Although they can move at extremely high speeds, people can easily escape them by running straight up or straight down the slope. The Croncher will not be able to attack because it would have to circumnavigate the entire hill in an effort to catch up.Possible sightings of Sidehill Cronchers (or Crevida Scrofa) have been reported in Stockbridge, Ludlow, and maybe on Mt. Mansfield. But make no mistake, these animals are rare - so rare, in fact, that no one has ever seen one.
Used with permission from Joe Citro
You can find more commentaries by Joe Citro on-line at VPR-dot-net.

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