We live next to a National Trust building in the middle of the island and before we moved in, we thought that the only noise we would have to encounter in this fairly isolated area would be the coaches of Hawaiian-clad cruise ship visitors from time to time. Thankfully, they are normally in and out within 15 minutes and the tours seem to stop by 4pm, so we didn’t think it would be an issue and went forward with the lease.
When the keys to our new abode were handed over to us by the landlord, he happened to mention a monthly event that he thought we should be aware of. He said that every Friday closest to the full moon, there would be howling. Yes, you read that right – howling. Thinking this was just an odd exaggeration (he was British too, after all, so we assumed he had a similar sense of humour to us), we just laughed it off, took the keys, and didn’t give it another thought.
Then came our first full moon in the new house.
On the first Friday nearest the full moon, we were sitting outside watching the sunset and sipping reasonably-sized glasses of rum. All was peaceful as usual, life was good, and we settled into the evening with the fading light. Suddenly, cars started to gather outside and people began flocking to the National Trust site. We weren’t used to seeing any nighttime activity, so we were immediately intrigued, particularly when we spotted a couple of men in what we thought was fancy dress (costumed, for you Americans).
Suddenly, the sounds of drums and trumpets echoed around us as the sun disappeared on the horizon. Meh, we thought and continued on with our rum, assuming that it was simply the start of yet another island function. We went on with our evening.
Then, about 30 to 40 minutes later, the sound of people howling echoed throughout the night sky, startling us to our core and sending our cats running for their lives.
As it turns out, our landlord was not kidding around. This monthly event, appropriately known as “The Howling”, gives people an opportunity to gather together for drinks, mingling, and – you guessed it – howling at the moon as they see its ascent. The men we thought were in fancy dress were actually in a very old traditional uniform and were the ones playing the drums and trumpets. They do this as the sun sets with the howlers starting their nighttime chorus when they see the moon. The main surprise though? Not a werewolf in sight!
Every month, this madness occurs. Though I find it rather amusing, I’m always grateful that it does not go on until the early hours of the morning, nor does it involve any ritual sacrifice. Just a happy crowd of wine-drinking and canapé-munching howlers.
I must say, when we moved here, I never could have anticipated such a cultural quirk. I’ve lived in a lot of places and seen a lot of crazy things, but this one is most definitely a first. Is it the island, or just us and our canny ability to find the crazy and eccentric wherever we go?