April 1, 2010

SIDEHILL CRONCHERS

This is my April, 2010 public radio commentary.
If you prefer to listen to me read it, you can do so at
http://www.vpr.net/episode/48285/


SIDEHILL CRONCHERS

Lately I’ve been getting something of a reputation here in Vermont. People are starting to call me “Joe Citro, The Ghost Guy.” Okay, admittedly I have written a lot about ghosts.

But “The Ghost Guy”? I hate to get typecast like that. So in 2009 I decided to broaden my horizons.

I gave up on ghosts and started looking for. . . monsters.

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 hesitation 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 article in a 1966 The Rutland Herald, “…the Croncher has. . . short tusks, dark dirty brown hair, weighs at least 100 pounds, [and] has hooves with prominent dew claws….”

It seems that Cronchers are well suited 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 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.

THE END (or is it?)

SCROLL DOWN TO THE THE ONLY KNOWN PHOTO OF THE TERRIFYING
SIDEHILL CRONCHER