It rages on our roads. It appears without warning and then taunts drivers and passengers alike. It can vanish, sometimes for months. But it always comes back.
I'm talking about Strap Howl, the humming, moaning and howling sounds made by the straps that hold a canoe to a vehicle's roof.
Sounds like Canada? Sure. But this is one national icon I could do without. This three season monster haunts our highways.
I thought I had it licked. On a recent trip north, straps held my canoe snugly and securely. The Beast was silent.
The way back was different. I knew I was in trouble as soon as I hit 80 km an hour. It started as a growl, a warning of what was to come. It got much worse when I hit the big highway and was able to go 100.
The Beast roared. Endlessly. Same roads, same canoe, same straps ... it didn't matter.
I got off the highway and adjusted everything. Nothing worked. The growling, howling sound was with me for the whole ride.
Canoeing, to me, is magical when it is nearly silent, be it a quiet paddle in the morning mist or at sunset, with still water the colour of red gold.
Howling down the highway with a canoe is the exact opposite of what I treasure.
Over the years, I have learned to twist the straps and keep them tight (some say flat straps are quieter, but not in my experience). I have carried canoes all over the place without humming and howling, only to have the unbearable noise return, without any reason I can find.
It's back this summer. I don't know why. I have bought many straps in the attempt to defeat the Beast. I will try them all and try all suggestions.
For this is driving me mad.
"We do not remember days, we remember moments."
- novelist and poet Cesare Pavese