by Lois Kromhoff (c)2004
Beside the Look-look-shouie stream
where silver salmon swim,
sat dear old Grandpa Kelcewas.
Minatcoe sat with him.
She liked to ask the wise old man
to tell her what he knew
of olden days and ancient ways
and scary stories too!
“Tell about those hairy men,
the sasquatches and you!
Is Stinky Bigfoot out there still?
Tell us, Grandpa, do!”
The children played and worked beside
the Okanagan shore.
They wove some willow traps for fish
and called, “Please tell us more!”
So, Grandpa slowly stuffed his pipe
and thought before he spoke.
“Those bigfoot smelly hairy beasts
were certainly no joke!
“A great big fellow captured me
and took me to his cave.
It happened many years ago,
when I was young and brave.
“This land was full of food to eat,
but Mother had a wish:
she wanted us to set a trap
for Kikeninnie fish.
“So Father took a willow trap
like you weave, very large.
He set it up this very stream
and I was put in charge.
“Early every morning I
was up before the sun.
I climbed to find the fish trap full;
fish for everyone.
“Kikeninnie salmon fish,
silver fish galore!
Kikeninnie every day;
then there were no more.
“I camped beside the willow trap
and listened through the night.
I waited for a quiet thief.
I watched till morning light.
“I fell asleep and wrestled with
a horrid dreadful dream.
As cool clear water splashed along,
I wakened with a scream!
“I thought I heard the North Wind blow
a piercing whistle sound.
A suffocating sulphur stink
had drifted all around.
“A hairy hand reached out to grab me,
lift me giant high.
A bearded sasquatch stared at me.
I could not blink an eye.
“He wrapped my blanket round me tight,
then stuffed me down his vest.
I gasped and choked and sputtered
on his heaving hairy chest.
“His laugh was loud, like thunderclaps.
His whistle, wild and shrill.
He took my fish, my basket too,
and bolted up the hill.
“I peered through tufts of bushy beard.
He took me to his cave.
He huffed and puffed and scuffed about.
Oh, I was scared – but brave!
“For when he stood me on my feet
I reached his knees – no higher.
He tied me to a heavy log
beside a wispy fire.
“He scrounged around for sticks and twigs
to make the embers glow.
He muttered as he poked and puffed
and gave his fire a blow.
“He studied me from every side.
I trembled, as I feared
this hairy giant man,
this sasquatch with a beard.
“His arms were hairy, dark and long,
his palms were smooth and wide,
and tangly hairy goatskin shreds
hung round his putrid hide.
“His face was light and whiskery,
his eyes were beady black,
his brows were bushy, big and brown,
his forehead slanted back.
“He fumbled in the darkness till
he found a sheepskin rug.
He motioned me to slumber,
like a little snuggle-bug.
“He strung a row of shiny fish
upon a willow pole,
which hung beside the glowing fire –
my fish, the ones he stole!
“Some garlic bulbs hung overhead,
with meat and herbs and roots.
While snuggled in my bed, I heard
horrendous cries and hoots.
“Another giant hairy man
had stomped inside the cave.
And from his belt hung three dead does.
The guys began to rave.
“They squatted by the fireside
to cook their evening meal,
to clap their hands and slap their knees,
to laugh and grunt and squeal.
“And then my captor set me free.
He giggled, ‘Hee-hee-hee!’
He grabbed my head and touched my teeth
and fed some fish to me.
“The giants ate with gross display
of slops and slurps and burps.
With greasy fingers, grungy beards,
they sat and spat like twerps.
“My captor howled and shook his thumb.
He moaned and groaned and sighed.
The hairy brutes sat side by side,
and whimpered, wailed and cried.
“I stood upon my captor’s knee
to see what I could see:
a fish bone, deep within his thumb,
had caused his misery.
“I seized that bone between my teeth
and pulled the dagger free.
The giants wiped their tearful eyes
and lept to dance with me.
“At night, they rolled a big round rock
to block the open cave.
Then I was free to wander,
like a wimpy little slave.
“But when the fire glowed and died,
the giants slept and snored,
I thought about my lakeshore home,
the people I adored.
“I was tied by day.
I was blocked by night.
Yet, I planned to run
when the time was right!
“The snoring beasts lay fast asleep.
I crawled across the floor.
The moonlight shone a silver gap
beside the big rock door.
“I squeezed between the crack of light
and wiggled like a worm.
I pulled and pushed with all my might
and squished with every squirm.
“I ran through groves of prickly pine.
I heard the cool breeze hum.
I climbed and clutched with bloody hands.
My heart beat like a drum.
“Small roots and berries were my food
for three full moons – or more,
until I found my friends,
along the Okanagan shore.
“Oh, what a time to celebrate!
The nights were full of cheer,
as people came to feast and sing
and dance away their fear.
“Though I have lived a long, long time,
I tremble when I hear
the North Wind’s shrieking whistle sound;
a sasquatch could be near!”
“Oh, Grandpa,” said the little girl,
“did someone find that den?
Did someone find those giant bones
of ancient hairy men?”
The wise old Grandpa Kekewas,
just smiled and shook his head.
“These mountains hide the strangest things.”
That was all he said.
First published in Canadian Stories, Special Edition Anthology, December 2004
Lois had been a teacher for many years in the Cultus Lake area of the Fraser Valley and in the Okanagan. She listened respectfully to the tales told by her students and their parents, rendering some into poetry, some into prose, as they deserved to be heard.
We are searching for an Indigenous artist who would like to partner in a book of Lois’ historical poems and prose. Please send us a Comment!