Sunday, May 01, 2005

GoodGod Bird

When I was a kid, my dad stopped in the middle of a story one afternoon, hushed us all, and said, "Listen! Listen! That's a Goodgod!"

We wanted to know what the heck a Goodgod was, and he told us it was a giant woodpecker, so damned big if you saw it you'd say, Goodgod!I must have been about 4 or 5 at the time, and I still remember it because we all looked so hard trying to see it, and even though we could hear it, the woods were so deep and full of snakes, he wouldn't let us go across the creek to get closer.

This was in the Francois Bottoms, a deep swamp area where you could get lost half a mile from your house: even adults frequently got lost, sometimes for days. This was 40 something years ago, so they weren't as extinct as they were listed. This same area, by the way, is known for skunk-apes: reddish, orangutan sized local variations on Bigfoot. I knew churchgoing, sober people who swore to have seen them, even as recently as 20 years ago. Stranger Things.

Okay, I was about 5 years old when the Goodgod bird sounded off across the creek from our house, so that would have been 1964: 20 years after the official last sighting, and on the other end of the state from the Big Woods sightings in northern Arkansas.

The area of Francois Bottoms is just about undevelopable, because it's under water part of the year, and a bog the rest of the time. The trees have adapted, and the undergrowth is like a wall. The Tribes in the area left it alone for the most part, because of the Foolkiller. Most of what's been carved out is raised areas near the pine barrens that could be drained off for farming. Nobody told us that the Goodgod/Lordgod was extinct, and they sure as hell forgot to tell the bird.

Unfortunately, I don't remember what it sounded like, for the simple reason that it didn't sound to me, as a kid, anything like a bird. It sounded like something you'd hear a carpenter use. I don't know if it's an actual call, or the distinctive drumming it makes when it feeds.


Blogger Mountain Laureate said...

Wasn't the Ivory news grand? You're lucky to have heard it.

2:28 PM  

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