Homestead Halloween

By , October 31, 2013

I’ve always loved the medieval incantation against scary stuff:

From ghoulies and ghosties, and long-leggity beasties
And things that go bump in the night
Good Lord, deliver us!

Oddly enough, I seem to have worked out most of my fear of dark, lonely places long before we moved to the “homestead.”

Good thing!

By the time we got up this Halloween morning, the wind had reached 30 knots (34.5 mph). With low cloud cover and just the sliver of a moon, could we see it, darkness covered all. As we walked to the cabin door, to make our morning necessary trips, We heard a high-pitched squeal, that echoed against the cabin walls, startling us considerably.

Michelle commented that it sounded like a wild cat of some kind, but I felt (reasonably) sure that we had just heard a humpback whale. On my way to the outhouse, I detoured to the edge of the beach. I heard nothing more. Rain and need hustled me up to the little house (thank goodness I’m not trick-or-treating tonight, or chaperoning anyone who is). Shortly, I heard that wheezing squeal again. The sound definitely came from out on the water.

Southeast Alaska’s humpback whale population is working south, either to migrate to Hawaii and points south, or to meet the autumn herring runs. We saw a single humpback about a week ago. They aren’t as numerous out front as they are in the spring, so this one came as a kind of spooky surprise this morning. Particularly, we’ve never heard a vocalization quite so shrill. We often hear similar noises when the whale seems annoyed by porpoises or sea lions. The latter especially like to tease the whales, it seems.

About three killer whales passed within 30 feet of our rocks yesterday—that was thrilling! I don’t suppose they were the mammal-eaating transients, and they might be harassing a humpback somewhere out there? I suppose it’s possible.

We are so ideally situated to become the setting for a classic ghost story to be told around campfires someday. We’ve got all the right elements: little old log cabin on a lonely stretch of coast, at the end of a meandering trail through the dark forest. “A couple lived out there quite happily with their daughter, till she went off to college. Then, one dark, stormy Halloween night . . . .”

We’ll be watching for haggard strangers to come stumbling up to beat on the door, begging shelter, their hair a pure and premature white. Or, perhaps disgruntled whales?

Happy Halloween!

For other examples of scary noises on the “homestead” see Screams on the Beach, or The Noise in the Forest.

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