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Half a century ago, Belgian Zoologist Bernard Heuvelmans first codified cryptozoology in his book On the Track of Unknown Animals.

The Centre for Fortean Zoology (CFZ) are still on the track, and have been since 1992. But as if chasing unknown animals wasn't enough, we are involved in education, conservation, and good old-fashioned natural history! We already have three journals, the largest cryptozoological publishing house in the world, CFZtv, and the largest cryptozoological conference in the English-speaking world, but in January 2009 someone suggested that we started a daily online magazine! The CFZ bloggo is a collaborative effort by a coalition of members, friends, and supporters of the CFZ, and covers all the subjects with which we deal, with a smattering of music, high strangeness and surreal humour to make up the mix.

It is edited by CFZ Director Jon Downes, and subbed by the lovely Lizzy Bitakara'mire (formerly Clancy), scourge of improper syntax. The daily newsblog is edited by Corinna Downes, head administratrix of the CFZ, and the indexing is done by Lee Canty and Kathy Imbriani. There is regular news from the CFZ Mystery Cat study group, and regular fortean bird news from 'The Watcher of the Skies'. Regular bloggers include Dr Karl Shuker, Dale Drinnon, Richard Muirhead and Richard Freeman.The CFZ bloggo is updated daily, and there's nothing quite like it anywhere else. Come and join us...

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Thursday, January 20, 2011

MIKE HALLOWELL: Footprints in the Snow (Not)

Okay, I apologise in advance for going off-topic, as they say, as this blog has absolutely nothing to do with cryptozoology. However, I wanted – nay, needed – to share the following experience with See-Eff-Zedders in the hope that someone out there may be able to offer some sort of explanation for a conundrum that has Mrs H. and I completely baffled.

On Tuesday December 7th 2010, at approximately 6.20 pm our next-door neighbour knocked at the door and asked if any parcels had been left at our house for her whilst she'd been out. I told her that I'd been in all day and the postman hadn't left any deliveries for her at all. We chatted for a few minutes about the weather and other matters and then she returned to her home. Several minutes later I realised that I had to retrieve a book from my study upstairs. My wife was already upstairs in the bedroom, vacuuming.

As I reached the top landing I happened to glance out of the window at the front garden, and noticed something decidedly odd. I instinctively shouted for Jackie, “Here...come and look at this...” Without pausing for so much as a second she replied, “I know what you're going to say – the footprints in the snow.” She had already looked out of the window and noticed the anomaly before I'd ascended the stairs. I immediately went and got my camera and at exactly 6.32 pm took a series of photographs.

So, what was so odd that my attention was riveted to such a degree?

The front of our house was covered with a thick blanket of snow; pristine, glistening and completely undisturbed except for our neighbour's footprints. And that's where the problem lay. In the snow we could clearly see the prints leading up our neighbvour's own garden path, at which point she'd turned right and crossed the two parking bays between our respective dwellings. You could see her footprints in the snow there, too. But then they stopped at the top of our path. There wasn't a single footprint in the snow between the top of the path and our front door. This was inexplicable, as she'd walked up to the door only minutes earlier.

Jackie and I tried to come up with a rational explanation, but couldn't. More, there wasn't a sign of any footprints leading from our door back to her own house, which there obviously should have been. It wasn't snowing when she knocked at the door, and it didn't snow between her visit and my taking the photographs minutes later. To this day we have absolutely no explanation as to why her footprints ended at the top of the path. How on earth did she walk from the top of the path to our door without leaving prints in the snow, and how did she walk back to her own home without leaving a single trace either?

Another oddity is that as the footsteps get closer to our path they seem to get smaller and sit much closer together.

Using Serif Panorama Plus and Serif Photo Plus, I seamlessly stitched the pictures together. The result left us more baffled than ever, as the enigma can be seen even more graphically.

I'm just prepared to accept that there may be a rational explanation for this, but I'll be damned if I can come up with one. If any readers of this blog can assist, I'll be delighted to hear from them. END

5 comments:

Dale Drinnon said...

Not all snow is created equal. Looser, fluffier snow will take tracks differently than harder-packed snow and where tracks might show in ordinary snowy conditions, they might not show at all if your snow has a small layer of ice over it. I would imagine that some of your snow has ice over it or something, and subsequently is not showing the tracks.

Syd said...

I believe that there is a perfectly rational explanation for this seemingly strange phenomenon. Mike's neighbour is quite obviously a Witch.

She walked part of the way in the snow and either became tired or got wet / cold feet, so she then took to her broom-stick to complete the journey.

The fact that as the footsteps get closer to your path they seem to get smaller and sit much closer together and that there are no return prints, is easily explained.

She mounted her broom-stick which took most of her weight, thus leaving smaller indents in the snow. After four short steps she gained height and left no further impressions. Being tired, she flew all the way home, so one would not expect to see any footprints during the return journey.

Geordie Paranormalizer said...

I checked with my neighbour and she is not a witch. She does not have the time as she is too busy astral travelling to Alpha Centauri, and in our current economic climate cannot afford a broom. Nice try, though, Syd!

Dale, after we noticed the footprints I went and checked with my neighbour, and my own footprints were perfectly visible on the path. This was just after she'd been to our home. I didn't think to photograph my own prints (wish I had)but Jackie will verify that they were there. I can't think of any climatic conditions that would soften hard snow within minutes, thus preventing her own footprints from showing up but allowing mine to be seen minutes later. Twenty minutes later my own son, who lives nearby, came to see us with our little grandson. Their footprints were perfectly visible too.

Dale Drinnon said...

Then again, a gust of wind might blow loose snow into prints and thus bury them, but not blow snow where there was some kind of a barrier such as a short wall in the way.

And the intensity of the sun can change the consistensy of the snow in a remarkably short period, such as in the morning when the sun just comes up. The changing angle of the sun's rays can make a big difference in a short time.

That being said, of course I am only guessing since I know nothing about the condition of your snow, the weather conditions that day, the layout of your yard, the architecture of your buildings or any of dozens of other variables that might have a bearing on your photograph.

Best Wishes, Dale D.

Geordie Paranormalizer said...

The difficulty with all of this is that the footprints - if they ever existed - must have completely filled in within 12 minutes whilst those adjacent to them were left completely untouched. You can see by looking at the picture that there isn't even the faintest trace of footprints ever having been there. It wasn't snowing and the consistency of the snow wasn't loose. Besides, there was little or no wind; not even a slight breeze, to my recollection. I find it really hard to believe that footprints could have been obliterated like that by natural means without the slightest trace, such as a faint indentation, left behind. Another issue is why our neighbour's return footprints disappeared but not the outgoing ones, both sets of which were in exactly the same place. The more I ponder over this, the more questions present themselves.....