Friday, October 31, 2008


If you happen to be out walking near the outskirts of the quiet village of Buckland Vermont on a dark night, legend has it, you can smell the smoke from the potbelly wood stove and hear the howling. The potbelly stove belonged to Howard Twittleford, and so did the howling.

Howard was a hermit who lived in a ram shackled cabin in the middle of the woods. His closest neighbor, well, human neighbor, lived over five miles away, and that neighbor, Pete Culver, said on a still night he could hear the howling as if it were right outside his window.

Howard at one time lived in town, but was such an odd duck, scared his neighbors. He’d never speak to any humans, but would bark at the neighborhood dogs and caw at the crows. One day, to the relief of all, Howard packed up some clothes, his potbelly stove and a big bag of bird seed and headed out to the forest outside of town.

Howard lived happily for many years, never venturing back into town. Pete Culver would bring Howard some supplies and food now and again. Pete never saw any animals close by, but said the cabin was covered in black feathers and gnawed on bones.

In the warmer months, Howard kept a bowl of seed on his potbelly stove top next to an open window. The window sill was carved up with claw marks. “In all my days, I’ve never seen claw marks that big.” Pete marveled. “Must have been some pretty darn big birds.”

One October moonlit night the air was dead quiet. And that’s when the howling began. The howling was so loud and ominous it sent shivers down Pete’s spine. “I knew something must be wrong.” Pete figured.

The next morning Pete headed over to Howard’s cabin. There he found a sight which he won’t soon forget. Howard was dead on the floor, covered with wolf hair and surrounded by black crows. Pete buried Howard next to his cabin and sprinkled seed over the grave.

Pete went back home, got his mules and wagon, and then went back to Howard’s cabin and got the wood stove. Years later, Pete, who by then was an old-timer, sold the potbelly to Stove Black Richardson.

“I still hear the howling at night.” Pete told Stove Black. “And I know it’s Howard, it sounds too human, or maybe, not human enough.”

Howling Howard became a legend in the county. You ask any school kid about Howard Twittleford and they’re likely to tell you…

Howling Howard howled at night.

Howling Howard was a fright,

Howling Howard’s now dead and out of sight,

But Howard’s howling still packs a bite.

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