I was out for a walk recently, and my mind started to wander, as it so often does. It wandered, yet again, into I wonder…. So today we are playing the I wonder game. What crazy things do you wonder about? As always, if you choose to take up the challenge, please add a pingback to this prompt.
There are a lot of things I wonder about, and my wonderings tend to lead me down a rabbit hole in which I sometimes get stuck.
Think about this for a moment. You are living in the Massachusetts Bay Colony in the early colonial days. For reference, these are the days of a Nathaniel Hawthorne novel—17th century or thereabouts. It is frigid January when daylight lasts a hot minute before night falls dark and impenetrable. You were visiting with a friend, and now you have to get home before supper. The path leads through the woods. In the dark. Pitch dark.
You bundle up as best you can and begin your trek. The dim yellow light of the windows of your friend’s house grow increasingly small and distant until they are specks and then no more. You have a lantern, so at least that’s good. (Though I’m not sure if you’ve ever paid attention to how much light an old-fashioned whale blubber lantern or tallow candle throws out? Not much, I’m sure).
Anyway, the only way home is through the woods since the early settlement is basically only woods with a few scattered clearings for houses here and there. So through the woods you go, traversing the thickening and darkening forest with the feeble little flame as your only source of light.
Off in the distance, you hear the chilling scream of a fisher cat or a fox, but you only hear the scream and have no knowledge what could possibly make such a horrible, haunting noise. Someone, you think, was just eaten alive! Your body tightens in fear as a chill passes over your skin, and you break into a run, trying hard to keep your lantern steady as you go. By the time you get home, you are simultaneously shivering from both fear and cold and sweating, ready to pass out from the exertion of the run and from breathing too hard for too long in the frigid night air.
I wonder what the early settlers thought was in the woods making such horrific and terrifying noises. They had no way of looking it up. Obviously, there was no internet, but there was not even a local library at the time. Someone would literally have to see a fisher cat scream in order to know what it was. But again… it would be dark with only feeble light sources. How long did it take them to figure this out?