RANGE: The Bugbear is a wind-spirit: something between a breath of fresh air and a neuralgia-inducing draft. She beckons us onward through Death Valley, upward to the Rockies, downward into the depths of Carlsbad Caverns, outward through the blizzard, deeper into the second growth primeval, and in general, really, like really, INTO the outdoors.
HABITS: The original Fairy response to the sight of mortal man was to get him lost in the woods. And, after all these years, we still find it impossible to resist the Call of the Wild, the haunting summons from distant hill and forest. So off we go, orienteering, spelunking, cross-country skiing, fly-fishing, birdwatching, beachcombing, mountain climbing, white water rafting, scuba diving, butterfly collecting—to wind up lost in the woods. But no sooner are we rescued, dried off, thawed out, and taken off the intravenous, than we’re off to the woods again because the Bugbear has equipped us, this time, with foolproof magic equipment for our journey: a pocket-sized cookstove with a phosphorescent flotation cuff (and a jacket with several dozen pockets to stow it in); a multipurpose Martian Army knife, suitable for maintaining jet engines or whittling toothpicks, lacking only a blade to adjust a pocket-sized cook-stove; a bottle of weapons-grade mosquito repellent (sure to keep those pesky skeeters away from the pocket it leaked into); a powerful, waterproof, rechargeable flashlight to illuminate fully whatever that stuff was you stepped in, as well as the baleful red eyes of the enormous bruin who left it there. The Bugbear also whispers good advice on woodcraft to the intrepid mushroom hunter: “The ones with caps that look like pizzas with everything on them are OK to eat. The ones with caps that have no anchovies are deadly.” Inspired by the environmentally aware Bugbear, we visit the seashore after an oil spill to degrease ducks with Duz and Lux; refloat and motivate suicidal whales; and, on the way home, get lost in the woods.
HISTORY: Bugbears are descended from old forest Fair Folk of England and Ireland who were related to Boggles, Boggarts, Boogies, Bogies, and double Bogies. An early Irish variant was the L. L. Bean Sidhe. For centuries, “I got lost in the woods” was a perfect excuse for the day-late Irishman, until the women of Eire banded together and cut down every tree on the Emerald Isle. The men are still always a day late, but now they have no excuse. When the great forests of Europe were hewn to make pulp to make paper to make books which denied the existence of Fairies, the Bugbears took the hint and emigrated to the well-wooded shores of the New World. For centuries they amused themselves at the expense of coureurs de bois, pioneers, and other trailblazers. Many famous Americans (Boone, Lewis and Clark, Teddy Roosevelt, to name but a bunch) enjoy reputations as explorers —when all they really did was to follow a capricious Bugbear and get lost in the woods.
SPOTTER’S TIPS: The trail is clearly marked. Follow the signs. Keep the sun on your right. Moss only grows on the north side of the trees. If you carry it in, carry it out. Don’t panic. Timber wolves are every bit as afraid of you as the mountain lions are.