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Whistlin' Dixie, My Bignosed Leaning Bristlebeast

Updated on April 11, 2011
Whistlin' Dixie, My Bignosed Leaning Bristlebeast
Whistlin' Dixie, My Bignosed Leaning Bristlebeast | Source

No, you generally won’t find a Bignosed Leaning Bristlebeast anywheres about my birthplace in Northeast Ohio. These benign hill-climbing creatures with nappy coats akin to velcro are indigenous only to the Appalachian foothills south of the Mason-Dixon Line, where I grew up. I raised Whistlin’ Dixie myself, on a thriving Bristlebeast ranch off Fairchance Road, overlooking surprisingly affluent Cheat Lake, Monongalia County, West Virginia.

When she was just a yearling, Dixie ‘n me would spend hour upon hour clambering up and down the steep peaks that formed the western rim of Coopers Rock State Forest, though I must admit, she did a lot higher clambering in a lot shorter time than I ever could. It’s the leaning nature of the Leaning Bristlebeast — caused by an evolutionary shortening of one pair of legs — that gives these critters the edge. They never seem to be afraid of falling, as they are always leaning into the slope they are ascending, so gravity can’t quite get a purchase on ‘em, if you know what I mean. And that makes ‘em fearless and nimble.

It’s a good thing that Whistlin’ Dixie is always whistlin’ Dixie. (She must have picked it up from me in the days of my youth, when I was an avid Civil War re-enactor.) For no matter how high or fast she climbs, no matter how many of those steep and rugged kudzu-covered peaks she happens to put between us, I can always hear the sweet strains of Dixie drifting to me on the Appalachian air.   

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