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Victory in a strange, daytime bat battle
Catch and release a good omen for both of us
We had a bat in our house one recent morning. I think of it as a good luck omen, a pre-Chautauqua experience right here in our own home when we’re getting ready for annual New York travel. Others, I am guessing, may not see bats in quite the same positive light.
My daughter first noticed it tucked quietly above the window over the stairs. Her shriek upon realizing there was a bat in the house was my first indication that something was amiss, but then all went quiet again, so I finished my shower.
Fortunately, bats don’t do a lot of movement in the daylight hours, preferring to stay put wherever they may be. So I was able to finish my shower at the usual leisurely pace, get dressed and put myself into bat-catching mode. An old net was located in the garage, and my winter gloves were found safe in the closet.
Armed and ready I made my way to top of the stairs.
Bats are part of our annual summer travel experience, so a bat in our house here in Concord is never really a big deal – just a temporary nuisance. People all have their own way to deal with bats. Generally there is a good deal of sympathy and nurturing for them, even reverence. But when they invade your indoor private space, action is necessary. For some there is the net method. For others there is the broom method. For the more sporting types there is the tennis racquet approach.
A couple years ago while lying awake in the dark waiting for sleep to come I suddenly felt a flap flap flap pass over my nose. All was quiet for a few moments, then flap flap flap again. To make things even more challenging, there had been a power failure so there were no lights to turn on to help with the capture. I didn’t even have a flash light.
Flap, flap flap again. It was taunting me.
The room was as black as night would have it. Though I could hear and feel the bat, seeing it was another matter. The only thing I had in my favor was that my daughter and her mother were both sound asleep. It would not have been a good thing for them to be sharing this communion with nature with me.
There followed several uncomfortable minutes of considering options. The best seemed to be just lie still and hope it found a way out through the open door to the hall.
Of course, that option also included believing I might actually go to sleep with it flap flap flapping every minute or so over my head. The notion was possible, but not probable. So I continued working other scenarios in my mind.
Then the miracle happened. The bat took a break and landed on the screen to our window, thereby becoming silhouetted against the moon light outside. I acted quickly but calmly, picked up a hand towel and moved slowly toward the window. You would have been impressed with the skill I brought to the final lunge, almost virtuosic. One quick move of the hand and it was captured securely in the towel.
Bat in hand, I went downstairs and out the front door where it was released back to the night sky. Flap, flap, flap and it was gone, off to eat the small little insects that wouldn’t be biting me the next day.
If I could accomplish that capture, where all the advantage was with the bat, a daytime apprehension here in Concord was not going to be a problem. So I proceeded with a smug confidence to the task ahead.
The window where it had taken roost was too high for me to reach without a ladder. So using the edge of the net, I began to nudge the bat – a furry little black ball not wanting to be disturbed. It started cursing me in bat talk, and held its ground. But I was persistent and kept poking at it, trying to push it off the top of the window. Finally, with a loud bat shriek it took to the air and came straight for me, mouth wide open. I quickly moved aside as it flew past. Then I spun around with the net as it made a second dive toward me. This time I was ready with the net and took the winged mammal down to the floor.
The bat now subdued, I took a firm control of it with my gloved hand. He continued to shriek and look for ways to bite me as he tried to wriggle out of my grip. All 2 inches of him were tense and ready for battle.
But the battle was over. I had won.
I took it outside and threw it up into the air where it took flight and headed out to the trees – a good omen for both of us.
Then it was off to my day job.
(John Gfroerer of Concord is the owner of a video production company based at the Capitol Center for the Arts.)