Tuesday, May 23, 2017
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Encounter with Wolves in Polish Forest

Howling with the Wolves

Night is falling on the trail. It's dim and moonless. The contours of nearby rocks, trees and shrubs, can be slightly seen on the background blue of a dusky sky. The trail is still noticeable due to the presence of light-colored rocks. The entire part of the trail leading through the forest is not very long - it takes only an hour to reach a larger clearing. Approaching it, I notice some lighter spots in the black canopy of the trees. It seems, the far-distant sky is peeking through these woods. With such signs, I know that the glade is near....

WinterI reach the clearing. The silence is abruptly interrupted....my heart...it's beating like a drum. Gradually, it thrums into the silence of earth's rhythm. I draw a breath, deeply, and then I start to call. The sound of my voice is carried far away...hitting the surrounding mountains. One by one, the echoes of my call return. Seconds pass....suddenly the silence is ripped apart. Plaintive whining, barking, short howls, dominate the night air. The mountains throw back wolf call.

A still-sensitive ear is able to pick out singular voices...each one a distinctive tone. One, two, three...counting them...four...as the last echoes of their cries sink into mountainous space (or, the mountainous spaces). Then, it's over. Fulfilled. Silence comes once again-- like a shy girl, slowly embracing the valley.

The calls in their entirety resemble the voices of dogs. Something of the eagerness with which a dog greets a long-absent master. Sensing keenly, such a dog barks, whines, howls, scrapes at the door and flings itself forward with wild abandon, to welcome its beloved friend. All this, quadrupled...conveys some of the primal intensity of the wolf-cubs' language.

After yet another brief silence, a deeper, throatier wolf-call begins filling the valley to the brim with its vibratto. When this rhapsody subsides, its haunting echoes reverberate off the opposite slope of the mountain. Such a classical wolf song! Melodious, low, strung out...almost melancholy. In this way, the adult wolves make their presence known.

They sing from the other hill some distance from their cubs...this is their time to hunt. Their howling tells me that they are still close enough to assure safety to the whelps - thus helping to calm them. But, the call is also a warning. 'Don't come close!' it gravely counsels. Perhaps they are picking up some scent? My scent?!

A few 'long' minutes pass. Everything returns to its formerly soundless state. The edge of a cloud becomes enlightened by a slowly-emerging moon. I slip out of the glade reluctantly, after witnessing such a rare and magical moment in time. Gearing myself up to once more face the world 'out there', I trudge back, along the dark ribbon of trail.

The former impressions are now seared into my memory. The essence of a primeval mystery. One not possible for the last hundred years. It could not happen again. Still, it did! And it will forever remain within my consciousness...this howling of - and with - the wolves.

Recommended reading(s):

Eyewitness Travel Guide to Poland Eyewitness Travel Guide to Poland (Eyewitness Travel Guides) by Teresa Czerniewics-Umer, Malgorzata Omilanowska, Jerzy S. Majewski, DK Travel Writers

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