UFO sighting – and that’s the truth…

Yes, its true, my father the late artist Bernard Safran drew a UFO in color on fine grey drawing paper in 1974 for the RCMP investigators who came to visit. They came because our little family all witnessed a UFO at our isolated farmhouse in New Brunswick, Canada. But we weren’t alone – many many people saw it that night too.

red house dusk147

Our house and barns in Jolicure – behind the house and down the hill was Long Lake. The house was alone on the rise, surrounded by open fields and then miles of forest in all directions.

It was probably February or early March the first night I saw it – I remember that my mother was able to drive to “Club” (the local quilting club) by herself because the dirt road was still passable, and I was busy at the kitchen table doing geography homework. My father was upstairs and I don’t remember where my sister was – probably at University.

encyclopedia britannica set

Our Britannica set.

I had the giant Atlas from our giant Encyclopedia Britannica set open on the kitchen table to one of the maps for industry in Canada – you know the kind that show little pigs for pig farming, trees for timber, oil rigs for oil drilling… I had to draw the same kind of thing for one of the Provinces for grade 8 Social Studies.

It was a year after we’d moved to Jolicure; a year in which we’d grown accustomed to the enormous night sky including the plane routes overhead, the rare satellite arcing above, the northern lights, and the constellations and planets that my mother and I regularly looked at with our star chart and flashlight.

We knew how to find the Andromeda galaxy and star clusters and recognized falling stars. In other words we knew our night sky like the back of our hands. And we knew the night sounds around our house that came from the forest and the lake and fields.

From our house there was only one barn light visible across the ridge in the opposite direction from the lake, in the direction of the Trans Canada Highway – several miles of forest away. It was very isolated there.

house and barns small image

The barns were clustered around an open barnyard next to the house. You can see the cupola of the long hay barn clearly in the middle of the roof line – it was above the cupola where I saw the bright light that first night.

Anyway, I was working away at my project when I suddenly looked up out the kitchen window to my left and saw a huge bright light hanging just above the long hay barn next to the house.

At first my mind didn’t understand what was going on – I’d never seen anything like it over the barn or in the sky before, and as I watched it it turned from an orange-red to white. I ran to the hall of the house and called my father to come down to see the strange light – he came running – but when we got back to the kitchen the light was gone.

The next night my sister was at home – and she and I had gone to bed. My parents were watching the night time news. Their bedroom window looked out over the black night scene of the sky and the forest and lake. A report came on about a UFO sighting in the area and as the report was being read my father, lying on his bed, looked out the window and saw a mysterious light rise up out of the forest behind the lake and travel across the lake toward our house. My mother and father woke us up and ran downstairs to the kitchen and our always handy binoculars were already being used when I got down there.

moon over barn jolicure oil sketch617

Looking out towards the huge, long field where we watched the UFO – this photo was taken from our backyard – the back of the long hay barn is visible on the left. The lake was down the hill to the right.

Out the window in the field beyond the barnyard was a mysterious glowing object moving quietly around the giant field. It wasn’t marsh gas – let me get that straight, and it wasn’t ball lightning – it was a conscious object moving consciously – up a little, then over a little and then down a bit and then up again and over, and so on – moving in a way that indicated it wasn’t being moved by the air or by nature but by some intelligence inside. I was the last to get a look at it through the binoculars as it was moving away. My father had the most time to observe it. That’s why he could draw it.

The next day everyone was abuzz. The RCMP had chased a bright object across the long flat highway of the Tantramar Marsh that night and clocked it at a high speed but never caught up with it. People in Sackville and all over the area saw it – my sister’s friend at Mount Allison saw it out her dorm window as it made its way across the Marsh.

The next three nights we witnessed tall columns of light rising out of the black forest behind our lake – they looked like those giant klieg lights they use for Hollywood openings.  One or two straight columns of white light rising up into the western night sky. It was a bright blueish white light – crisply defined against the black sky – not at all like the northern lights that sometimes rose up into the night in the north.

ufo kang and kodos

Was it Kang and Kodos visiting us in their UFO? From the Simpsons.

My mother was convinced that we were being visited by peaceful beings – so why don’t we go and find them in the forest?

…gee, I don’t know… why not?

jolicure close up map

The red dot is approximately where our house was located. You can see that its adjacent to Long Lake and behind the lake is wilderness and more lakes and bog. The entire area pretty much from Sackville (lower left) up through Jolicure is the Tantramar Marsh. The RCMP chased the UFO across Highway 2.

So she and I hiked for miles around our lake and into the marshy scrub that lay behind the tall trees on the far side. It took hours, and when we got there it was desolate wilderness as far as the eye could see and no sign of equipment or light towers or anything that could have made those columns of light. Nor was there any sign of a vehicle driving in – it was boggy and there would have been evidence.

The next day we took our canoe out and went all along the edge of Long Lake looking for anything unusual, but never found anything.

jolicure sunset Long Lake

Looking across the lake to the forest from our backyard.

Soon after farmers started reporting burned rings in their fields. People were asking a lot of questions and were getting worried. And guess what?, there were even several cattle mutilations reported, that the RCMP claimed were due to a pack of wild dogs – really?  wild dogs?

That summer the Air Force were ever present in the sky (and the only summer they spent training there while I lived there). Fast fighter jets flew in formation up and down the marsh basins.

cf18s in formation

Canadian fighter jets in formation (for the purist these are CF18s that Canada started using in 1982 – I couldn’t find a picture of what we saw flying in formation in 1974)

One hot day my mother and our cat and I were out in the vegetable garden in front of the house, and a jet came screaming down low over us and flipped straight up over the roof of our house – all three of us went flat onto the ground in terror… those jets move so fast that they are gone before you can breathe. The pilot must have thought it was sooo funny to do that…

Anyway, that year came and went and I never saw anything like it again in my life. It opened a new fascination for me for science fiction and the X files but like anyone experiencing  paranormal experiences – you don’t talk about them because people think you’re absolutely nuts.

Men in Black - Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith

Thank goodness we have the Men in Black to protect us from bad aliens.

But all four of us saw that thing that night, and the investigators came to our house and were very respectful to my parents and took the drawing that my father had done of the UFO. It was shaped like a squashed disc with lights that rotated around the central edge of the thing.

Lily Tomlin as Edith Anne and Herry Monster

Lily Tomlin as Edith Ann with Herry Monster from Sesame Street. Image from http://muppet.wikia.com/wiki/Herry_Monster

So before you start telling me why UFO’s can’t possibly exist and I must be making it up or I must have been a victim of mass hysteria… let me just say… (As Lily Tomlin‘s character Edith Ann used to say)  “and that’s the truth” (with a Bronx cheer)




1970s – Magical Moose

In Jolicure, NB, we lived in a pretty remote area, surrounded by empty fields and bordered by miles of forest and Long Lake, so we had our moments with the wildlife out there.

The red farmhouse from the lake in summertime

The Red Farmhouse from the lake – summertime. You can see the upstairs hall window on the left of the house – its the upper dormered window

The first winter we were there in January 1973, we had just moved into our old farmhouse and were in the process of making the house liveable – and we didn’t really know the area at all. We didn’t have a dog yet so we weren’t going for walks everywhere everyday and it wasn’t spring yet with the impassable mud road that we had to hike along. Also we were newbies to the countryside having lived in the NYC area for our entire lives and weren’t quite up to speed with the natural world that we had just launched ourselves into. So we had not yet met our wildlife neighbors.

One wintery January day close to dusk, I happened to look out our upstairs hall window. The view was across some fields and a hilly incline to the abandoned white farmhouse that stood between us and the forest – just down the road that went by our house to the tiny community of Midgic (which was about 7 miles of forest away).

The abandoned white farmhouse, Jolicure

The abandoned white farmhouse near our house on the road to Midgic. You can see the forest in the distance.

Anyway, I saw what looked like 4 horses frolicking around in a circle on the distant rise in front of the white house – they were big and very graceful and looked like some magical vision there in the wintery dusk. I called to everyone to come see – and as I stood there watching I realized they were moose. I couldn’t believe that these giants could look so light on their feet. Big lumbering awkward, funny looking moose – but these were so graceful – like ballet dancers graceful. It was a beautiful sight and one I never saw again… though we saw moose frequently thereafter…

Bullwinkle the Moose

I grew up watching the cartoon Rocky and Bullwinkle – I think this is actually a very realistic portrayal of a handsome moose.

We had one giant bull moose that lived somewhere behind our house by the lake. We would see him pretty regularly swimming across the lake in the evening as the sun went down – his big head and enormous antlers seemingly floating along the still water. And we could hear him sometimes – a big deep bellowing/honking kind of sound that echoed off the forest wall and across the lake. (click on the word ‘HERE’ at this link to hear a bull moose http://moosetique.com/moose-sound/)

The other moose seemed to live in the forest on the road to Midgic. It was uncanny how sometimes we’d go for a walk with the dog down the dirt/mud road and it would be clear of car tracks and animal tracks – washed clean, say, after a rain.

moose tracks, image from all-about-moose.com

Moose tracks
(image from all-about-moose.com)

When we’d turn around to go home along the same stretch of road we’d see our tracks from earlier. But it wasn’t just our tracks anymore – the entire surface of the road would be covered with moose and deer tracks. They’d apparently watched us go by, and then come out and run up and down the road. Then when we were returning, jump back into the brush before we could see them.

This is the honest truth, really. It happened all the time.

I spent many hours out in the forest alone with just the dog, and I never ran into a moose. The dog and I would follow game trails and old logging roads and find animal tracks, and droppings and see where wild animals had nibbled the trees and plants or left the remains of a kill.

A big moose seen in McAdam New Brunswick, http://northerncomfort.info/bigmoose.html

A Big Moose seen in McAdam, New Brunswick,
image from http://northerncomfort.info/bigmoose.html

I never encountered anything dangerous and only ever heard things breaking twigs or crunching through the underbrush off in the distance. I knew the moose were there, and I’d heard about bears, and I’d seen wildcat tracks. But these animals were elusive and though they may have been interested in us, they never approached and always kept a distance.

I was never afraid of the wildlife there. Even when I knew they were watching us…

I’ll be writing about some of the other wildlife near our house in Jolicure, in a future post.