Autumn is the perfect time of year to gather around the fire for storytelling. What many people may not realize is that many of the ghost stories and legends told this time of year are actually a great way to learn about history, culture and even nature.
Many campfire stories involve creatures that may or may not exist. To the people who encounter one of these creatures, their supernatural experience seems very real. But the sounds animals make at night can make one’s imagination run wild. If you are not familiar with the screaming sound of a fox, it would be very easy to think the sound is coming from an unknown creature lurking in the darkness.
It has even been suggested by some that the legendary Mothman from West Virginia and the Jersey Devil from New Jersey (two large winged mythological creatures) may have actually been a large owl or a sandhill crane. Once a proper investigation is conducted, what may start out as a “creature” encounter may end up with a person learning something new about a real, and most likely fairly common, animal.
Great Parks and many other places across Ohio are fortunate to have many tales and legends that are rich in history. If you are near Lake Isabella, you may hear stories of the Loveland Frogman. If you visit Mitchell Memorial Forest, you have probably heard stories about the remains of a haunted crematorium in the woods (that actually isn’t a crematorium at all). The truth behind these stories is often stranger than fiction.
Whether or not you believe in ghosts and monsters, storytelling is a great way to reach people who may claim they aren’t interested in a certain subject. So enjoy this time of year, gather around the fire and teach people about history and nature through storytelling (whether they realize it or not)!
Doug Stevenson, Naturalist, Glenwood Gardens