THE WIDENING GYRE

What with the snow, the steady stream of visitors has finally tapered off, leaving the townsfolk of Pease alone for the winter with their crop circle.

Until recently, Kevin Santema's field had attracted a regular tourist trade, including teams of crack UFOlogists with hunger-inducing acronyms like MUFON and BLT, and psychics from the Cities, not to mention a parading procession of curiosity seekers come to see the 60-foot circle carved out in the corn stalks. ("None of them asked permission, of course," reports Kevin's ma, Shirley. "It's just like hunting you know.")

According to Shirley, who lives in a trailer overlooking the crop circle about 20 miles west of St. Cloud, a farmer discovered the mysterious hole in the field one morning in September when he drove by on his tractor--a perfect circle, corn stalks bent, not broken. "He came and got my husband and Kevin," Shirley remembers. "We went in and there was no tracks going in or going out." Among the visitors (humanoid variety) in the following weeks was Debra Yaeger, a local psychic with an interest in alien study. Based on the energies left behind, Yaeger re-created the alien visitation, and recorded her impressions on her web site (http://members.aol.com/century30/101396.htm). According to her report, the aliens were seeking information. "After the 'ship' landed," she writes, "there were two doors that opened on the northwest side of the ship. The first door slid from the right to left. Then an outside one that went left to right. Like an inner hull and an outer hull door? They were wearing a light gray colored suit. That had wrist bands and ankle bands. Just before they were going to step out of the ship one of these guys (aliens) kept checking the wrist band. Like it was very important. Possibly to have control over the craft while they are outside. But more so I have the feeling that it is something that they use to survive our climate/air/weather/gravity. He fussed with it a lot before he opened the doors to the outside world. As the little guys, "grays," stepped out of the ship I looked inside and there was a thin veil, like a membrane that was between the outside and the inside of the ship. This membrane works as kind of a seal between the ship's interior and the outside world. When I reached in and touched it, it almost felt like it was alive like a plant. That is the only way that I can describe it. Very interesting stuff.

"These two little guys both traveled down a corn row on foot and stopped about 15 feet from the ship," she writes. "One of them had this clipboard-looking device. It had kind of a rounded top with buttons all over it. Within this clip board was several needles that he would insert into the corn and the ground." The inspector then took his samples back to a mother ship parked nearby. "I could not tell what type of information that he was trying to gather," Yeager writes. "It is totally alien to me."

It's not totally alien to Shirley. Just a little strange. The night before the crop circle showed up, she heard a lot of planes going overhead, or so she thought. "You don't know if it was a plane or what," she worries. It's not the first time, either. Back in 1994, says Shirley, her neighbors up the road were getting their crops in and found another circle.

"I've heard that kids do it," Shirley offers. "But how they do it, I do not know. I've heard they put boards on their feet and walk around it. But it's such a perfect circle. And it's human nature--someone would drop a candy wrapper or a pop can or something." Colleen Freundschuh-Ziwicki, a reporter for the Mille Lacs Messenger in Isle, visited the sight back in October. "The corn all lay bent to one side," she remembers. "It was all flattened right to the ground in concentric circles going in to the middle." Her reporter's instincts make her skeptical of alien invasions. But she's at a loss for any other explanation. "How the hell could this be caused by anything normal?" she wonders. Holed up in her windy trailer for the winter, buffeted by the winds that rattle through the still unharvested corn stalks on her son's acreage, Shirley has plenty to think about. Faced with the mystery, she seeks comfort in a familiar place. "It's just like in the Bible," she says, "they said when Christ comes, all of a sudden there will be people missing, and there will be no explanation of where the people went. That's in the book of Revelations. This is what my husband says. And there's no explanation, because we had not seen anything. Everybody has their own idea what it is, but this was my husband's way of explaining it." And unless the mother ship spills gray-suited, wrist-banded aliens into her back yard to tell her something different, it's the only explanation she'll get.

--Joseph Hart

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