That said, these critters are a big thing around here and while they may not be my cup of tea, they are certainly someone’s. You can find out all about them, including how to make some, at the Brandywine River Museum.
So my first experience of the term critter was in connection to these “whimsical ornaments”, but I have subsequently learned that it is a term widely applied to creatures big and small. Yesterday I heard it said in the context of the pond at the kids’ school. On a survey, 56% of teachers agreed the outdoor classroom would be improved if “the pond had more critters in it.” Do you have to be British to find this funny, or is it just me?
For the etymologically minded, critter is simply derived from creature. Really, I think that should have occurred to me, but it didn’t. And having learned they could be living, or made, I was fascinated to learn that they can also be fearsome. Now we are talking!
Fearsome critters grew out of an oral story-telling tradition amongst lumberjacks in the early 20th century. They are mythical beasts and I’m thinking they’re a kind of US equivalent to the Bandersnatch, the Jubjub bird and of course, the Jabberwocky. Not to mention the Heffalump, a fictional creature for whom I have personally hunted (although I was very young at the time).
Now, if I am ever in a likely looking forest, I shall be sure to keep my eyes peeled for Cactus Cats and Hidebehinds, Jackalopes and Squonks. And here’s a drawing of a Hugag. So you know what to look out for.