A Fearsome Critter To Behold: The Squasholiger
When it comes to crazy creatures that ride the line between fantasy and reality, none are as unique as those created by the lumberjacks of the Northwoods. These critter creations could be the blended hybrids of any number of known animals and were often held responsible for a wide range of occurrences that took place in or around lumber camps. Axe handle falls apart? Blame the Axehandle Hound. A boat goes missing? That’s the work of the Boat Hound. Strange sounds coming from deep within the woods without explanation? You could blame either a Treesqueak or a Teakettler. There were countless options to choose from that all made for good stories around a campfire late at night.
While a majority of these critters were simply created as a way to frighten or haze newcomers to the camp, some were created with the sole intention of just confusing everyone who heard about them. One may ask why such creatures would be created if they served no purpose and didn’t help to explain any common camp occurrences? Well to that we would respond as such, lumberjacks of days long past were a unique bunch. Simple as that.
One such critter that falls well into the category of oddly confusing is a lumberjack creature known as a Squasholiger. While the name of the critter doesn’t seem that out of place among the other names given to more well known Fearsome Critters, this one stands apart after you hear the description given to it. As mentioned above, most critters were created as a way to easily and jokingly describe common occurrences that took place around lumber camps throughout the year. Death by falling tree branches, missing woodsmen, trees mysteriously knocked over during the course of a night, all these had a creature created to help explain how and why these specific events occurred. But as for the Squasholiger, we can only assume that it exists just because the universe wanted it to.
The Fearsome Critter known as the Squasholiger is described as resembling a common squash, almost like a fat zucchini, that grows as normal in a well taken care of garden. As time passes the squash creatures grow larger and larger until they are the biggest things in the garden. Once they have reached a suitable size the critters begin to ripen, and as soon as they are ripe enough, they start to grow their legs and eyes. This process usually takes about a week or so and once their legs and eyes are fully formed, the critters begin the final phase of their creation.
Once in the final phase, the Squasholigers start to get used to their legs and begin to stand up. During this time of strengthening their leg muscles, they also begin to form a mouth (which is very disturbing to think about). After only a few days the mouth is fully formed and the critters are ready to go off into the surrounding forest. Remember though, these are vegetable creatures so they are all growing off a vine that is located within the garden, and because of this they are essentially all tied together. So when the urge to migrate overtakes them, the Squasholigers begin walking forward and the vines attaching them to each other stretch tight. Eventually, the tension on the vine is too much to take and it snaps apart, the end that falls to the ground withers away, and the part that stays attached to the Squasholiger becomes its tail. After this, the critters make their way into the woods and they disappear from view.
While they mainly stay out of sight, its believed that they do stick around camps and small farms due to the higher insect populations in those areas. While not confirmed, it is thought by lumberjacks in working camps that Squasholigers feed exclusively on these insects and may actually provide a service in keeping the bug populations down at a manageable level. The reason this is unable to be verified though is that the squash critters are pretty much invisible when off the vine and on their own. They have this ability due to the fact that they maintain their green vegetable color which essentially keeps them in perfect camouflage while in the dense underbrush of the forest.
And that is pretty much all there is to know about Squasholigers. There is no info on how long they live, how they reproduce, where they go during the winter, or how one goes about planting the seeds to bring these critters to life. The only info that exists on these creatures is what you have read above and even that may leave you scratching your head after finishing it.
So why would the mighty lumberjacks of days long past create such a creature when its story served no real purpose around camp? Honestly, we haven’t the slightest idea, but if we were to take a guess, they probably just thought it was hilarious and decided to go with it.
“In early lumberjack folklore, fearsome critters were mythical beasts that were said to inhabit the frontier wilderness of North America. The critters were a part of lumberjack downtime and were often used to welcome and haze newcomers to the camp. Lumberjacks who would go from camp to camp would bring their entertaining stories with them and they would slowly spread as tall tales across America.”
-The Pine Barrens Institute
*Image Credit: Public Domain