Wolf Inquiry in Maine —
The night was dark and the headlights of our car reflected ominous, ghost like patterns on the scattered blanket of fog that hung over us. Chaya and I were driving down an old logging road which cut through the very heart of the Maine wilderness like a long scar running down the dorsal side of an otherwise hairy head. Hugging us on both sides was the thick, hairy forest, and only a scar of a former logging trail cut through it, guiding our way into the night.
We were searching for any evidence that wolves may have reinhabited this region of Maine, to do so we needed to drive down these little used logging roads in the northern forests in the middle of the night, and howl like wolves at one mile intervals.
“Are you scared?” I asked Chaya?
“A little,” she replied, “Are you?
“No way,” I answered, with a manly sort of chuckle (what sort of ridiculous questions are you asking, woman?).
Though, in actuality, I was really not so sure . . .
It is interesting how fear is so often reserved for potential future occurrences, rather than for the situation that is directly in front of you. The dark night, the startling shapes the headlights made when reflected back against the fog, and the fact that we truly were out in the middle of nowhere did not frighten me at all.
What did frighten me was the prospect of surprise. The view from the car was so overwhelmingly uniform — walls of dark trees pushed up against both sides of the narrow logging trail — that I kept imagining this smooth blanket ruptured by . . . something.
The simple thought of a human — my own species — suddenly appearing out there, breaking the black forest barrier, shot a deep chill down my spine.
Chaya and I were in the great nothern no-man’s land, by definition, there should not have been any humans out there. Even us.
We then pulled over to the side of the dirt logging trail as the odometer struck 001. This was our first waypoint for the wolf inquiry project. Chaya and I gave each other a quick look before stepping out of the vehicle.
The night was warm, the stars shown in bright, wildflower like clusters above the fog, as the forest beneath was as black as Conrad’s Heart . . .
I slipped the strap of the recording gear over my shoulder and put the head phones upon my head. Flicking up the power switch and pushing the standby button, I was ready to record anything that howled. I held up the microphone as Chaya and I walked away from the car and into the dark.
Out of recording range of the car’s idling engine, Chaya flashed me a little look. Everything was silent. So silent. And she hesitated a moment before shattering the fragile balance of the dark forest night.
She then sucked in a large breath and let it out quickly, impeding upon the silence, and howling loudly into the night . . .
I shuttered involuntarily as the silence quickly reseized the territory that was so abruptly stolen from it.
Chaya fought back, howling a second time much louder than the first.
The silence then returned with a vengeance.
We waited. I stuck the microphone up a little higher in the air, and listened to the sleeping forest through the headphones.
Chaya let out a final assault that was much louder than the two that preceded it. Undulating, her wolf howl ripped through the silent blanket of night and penetrated deep into the black forest beyond.
Something had to have heard that howl.
The anticipation bubbled up in me to a boiling height. What was out there beyond the black walls of the forest listening to Chaya’s howls?
Coyotes? Moose? Wolves?
. . . A bullfrog ribbeted.
We then returned to the car. Gingerly, I returned the recording equipment to the back seat, before getting behind the wheel. Another mile of logging road ticked off into the dark behind us, as the odometer soon read 002.
Chaya and I got out as we did the first time, only I handed the recording gear over to her, as it was my turn to howl. We walked out into the forest, away from the rumbling engine of the Subaru.
I cupped my hands up to my mouth, and had to consciously remind myself of what a wolf howl was suppose to sound like. To be sure I did not become Chaya’s laughingstock, I mimicked her howling style.
Nothing but night, silence, and the starry heavens above returned my call.
I howled again, a little louder.
Still nothing but dark creepy night and a far off echo responded to my gesture.
I looked at Chaya. She looke at me with her little head clenched shut between the large speakers of the headphones. She angled the microphone towards the other side of the narrow logging road as I gave out a third and final howl.
I howled as loudly and crazily as I could. I was warmed up, and ready to coo any wolves out there into joining in on my serenade.
But still nothing offered to joined in on my song.
I kicked at a stone in the road and scoffed as we walked back to the car.
“I guess there are not any wolves . . . ”
“Yip! Yip! Howl! Yip!!” shot back at us from behind the black forest walls, “Yip, bark, yip, yip, howl!!!!”
I fumbled with the recording gear in Chaya’s arms, and somehow managed to push record.
“Yip! Yip! Howww! Bark! Yip! Yip!!!!”
A group of coyotes quickly took up their part in the round, and I joined them on the chorus.
They yipped, I howled, Chaya recorded.
The once silent, dark forest erupted with sing song into the night. Stars shone over head, frogs ribbited below, and a man and a woman stood somewhere in between . . . howling like wolves.
Howling for Wolves, Singing with Coyotes
Related articles: Wolf Inquirey Project Introduction
Other sources: Visit to wolf sanctuary with video