The story of ‘The Screamer’

After moving to rural, interior Waldo County 22 years ago, I began to hear what I dubbed “The Screamer,” a descriptive name for something that roamed my neighborhood. It sounded like a demented beagle, as near as I can describe the sound.

I researched wildlife reference books, searching for the animal that could be making this disturbing noise, finding only the bobcat, lynx and cougar described as making such a noise. I heard it day and night, most often in the wooded areas in my near neighborhood. At night, it would come nearer the house, sometimes moving down the road.

Once, hearing it coming down the road, I pulled the car out with the headlights on to try to see what it was. I only got to see the eye shine, which at least gave me the idea of its size, perhaps the size of a small cocker spaniel.

Was it a bobcat? Too short. A raccoon? I was familiar with those, and it was the wrong noise — unless maybe a rabid one would make that noise? But then it wouldn’t keep coming around; it would not survive so long. The legendary New England mountain lion? I hoped not — probably too small.

One night, it came by the house and came back chasing something, complete with pounding footsteps, and puffing prowling noises, frightening my house guest under whose window it ran.

Then, after several years of hearing The Screamer off and on, my husband and I woke up around 5:30 on a late spring or early summer morning to hear The Screamer coming right toward us up the valley behind the house. We jumped up and ran outside, my husband to one side of the house and I to the other and waited as it came closer.

I saw it come up over the stone wall out back, pausing for a moment and then moving toward the other side, where my husband stood. I ran around the front of the house to him and we waited together.

The fisher (mystery now solved) came up beside the house to within 25-30 feet of us and stopped. We eyed each other. It then turned and went back down the valley. I said, “Now I see why we need to be careful about our cats.” It was about the size of three average cats.

It is interesting that the reference sources I fond do not mention the voice of the fisher, though this is understandable since it took several years of living in fisher territory to actually see the animal making the noise. We speculated that it was either calling for a mate, or trying to scare up prey.

It has been quite a while since I’ve heard The Screamer, but the habitat has changed since then. A large part of the woods are now a cornfield and a neighboring hayfield is now a large lawn for a new neighbor’s house. However, I have heard that another neighbor, a half-mile away, has recently told a nearly identical story.

Barbara Walch



‘Jungle logic’ in the Journal

Kudos to Richard Russo for his “Jungle Logic” column, and to the Journal for picking this up from the New York Times [“Amazon’s Jungle Logic,” Dec. 15 edition of the Journal].

For me, the best part of the item was its last couple of paragraphs, which point out the self-destructive turn Amazon’s “greed” has taken. But isn’t it truism of capitalism that today’s established leaders are often “devoured” by tomorrow’s upstarts — in part because today’s leaders have gotten fat, lazy, greedy and/or remote from their roots and customers’ needs?

I’m guessing that Lacy, Russo and the rest don’t have all that long to “hang in there.”

Frederick Eickelberg



Credit where credit is due

Jean Cummings, in her letter in the Dec. 22 edition [“What about earthquakes?”], gave me credit that I do not deserve. The effort to collect signatures for the moratorium petition was a joint effort, with Anne Matava, not me, doing the lion’s share. Just wanted to set the record straight.

Anne Crimaudo



‘Fun-Raiser’ raises funds, too

Thank you to all of the wonderful, kind and generous people and businesses who contributed to the overwhelming success of the recent “Fun-Raiser for Nancy Glassman” that raised $17,000 to help Nancy Glassman pay for cancer-related medical expenses.

So many people and businesses helped to make this a success: planning the event, designing the website and poster, donating auction items, selling tickets, running the live and silent auctions, making fabulous music, selling paintings, cooking and serving mouthwatering food, buying tickets, bidding on auction items, cleaning up, and delivering auction items to the winners.

Many, many people — from every part of our community — volunteered and helped before, during and after the event. Great thanks to everyone and our continuing good wishes and love to Nancy and John.

Friends of Nancy Glassman


Organizers offer thanks

On Saturday, Dec. 17 the Unitarian Universalist Church of Belfast held its annual Winter Solstice Celebration at the Blue Goose in Northport. For many local residents the event is a much-anticipated addition to the calendar of holiday festivities in Waldo County.

It is also a much-appreciated source of financial support for programs that serve residents in need at this time of year. This year proceeds from the Winter Solstice Celebration were designated for the Belfast Area Ministerium Food Pantry. Donations from the standing-room-only audience netted more than $1,900 in assistance.

This year’s Winter Solstice Celebration was dedicated to the memory of Paul Roberts, who initiated the event in 1994 and worked tirelessly each year to sustain it. A great deal of preparation by planners and performers is required to make the event engaging and entertaining and run smoothly. The success of this year’s event relied on the good will and good deeds of many volunteers in many capacities.

We thank the performers who donated their talents — Chris Goosman, the UU Choir, January Men and Then Some, Shira, Ando Anderson and Jeff Densmore, the Sword Sisters, Highland Mary, Djump!, the actors in the Mummers Play, poet Elizabeth Garber, storytellers Sumner Roberts and Danielle Bannister, Green Man Jeffrey Mabee, singers Dan Kirchoff, Morton Moesswilde and Sumner Roberts, and other participants — as well as the volunteers who provided technical support and other logistical assistance, decorated the hall beautifully, coordinated the post-celebration “feast” and provided food and cider for it, set up and cleaned up the hall, and helped in other ways to make the event run smoothly.

We thank members of our community, too, for their support and enthusiasm. We look forward to next year’s celebration.

The Winter Solstice Celebration Committee

of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Belfast

Jennifer Kirchoff, Chair

Liz Fitzsimmons

Rick Fitzsimmons

Sumner Roberts