It comes with an unyielding sense of loss, but considering where we are as a community in terms of following the science … that was a helluva howl.
Tuesday night’s howl – the latest opportunity to mark those bewildering initial months of the Covid-19 crisis, when we were stuck inside for weeks and hopped onto our patios, decks and sidewalks to let it all out with a howl – felt really good.
As Hugh Kuhn wrote in a post on Nextdoor, “what started as a vocal thank you to healthcare workers, a means to express compassion for those impacted by Covid, and a show of community determination grew into a national phenomenon. But mostly it created a sense of community cohesiveness.”
According to longtime Mill Valley resident Tom Singer, a psychiatrist, Jungian psychologist, writer and editor, it’s “not howling as we generally know it. It’s rather Walt Whitman’s ‘Barbaric Yawp,’ and coming from the poet whose work touches the soul of America, it is lovely and strangely moving.”
“Over the hills and into the valleys of Mill Valley, this yawping choir rings with an uproarious thunder of clanging and hooting that is infectiously joyous and liberating,” Singer wrote on BillMoyers.com in April 2020. “Miraculously, a broad smile erupts on our faces, even in the midst of growing isolation and dread. The anonymous echoing and coming together of faceless voices in the night makes it all the more uncanny and powerful.”
Two years ago this month, the world as we know it went sideways, quickly, dramatically and with horrifically cascading impacts. In those early days, the community rallied, calling for kindness, supporting an array of GoFundMe campaigns for specific businesses, direct $1,000 cash grants to businesses in need and an innumerable array of efforts to support our neighbors.
Kuhn, who was among those who created the Mill Valley Howl that had families all over town bounding outside to stretch their vocal cords in support of frontline workers – has wisely made sure to remind us all of these anniversaries. We “howl again to express our gratitude to all frontline workers who have suffered while doing their often thankless jobs, to say thank you to our community for doing our part to mitigate the virus’ spread,” Kuhn wrote. We howl “to honor those who have perished and to express our sadness at all that we have lost. One night. 5 minutes. One howl of solidarity. One howl of memories. One howl from our hearts.”
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Great job, Hugh!