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Hanging around the house going batty


Our friend has disappeared. He didn’t stay long, much to the relief of Hubby. I didn’t think he was much of a threat, but Hubby was worried he might be carrying rabies or some other horrible disease. Considering I wasn’t going to get close enough for him to bite, I wasn’t worried about our guest’s health record.

As with any guest, I was more concerned that he got plenty to eat. Our bat friend hung upside down on a screen outside a second story window under an awning. I imagined he decided to rest there after eating tons of mosquitos that were so delicious he lost track of time. We take pride in providing only the best for our guests.

In my scenario, the bat was less concerned with passing deathly illnesses to humans and more concerned with feasting on fine cuisine. Therefore, I imagined that as the sun began to peek over the horizon, just before my alarm interrupted my slumber, he swooped beneath the awning and passed out from a full belly.

We had plenty of mosquitos and other winged nuisances to offer the little guy. Not that our resident spiders haven’t been doing a superb job. Then again, thanks to my down time on my front porch, my legs look like twins with a bad case of measles. I suppose there were plenty of mosquitos to go around this year. The copious amounts of rain simply allowed for copious amounts of pests.

During our nocturnal friend’s stay, I learned some batty things. When they are hanging on your screen fast asleep, bats look dead. They don’t move at all. No up and down movement to indicate breathing, no twitching as if chasing butterflies in a dream, and no changing positions to get comfortable. But then, how comfortable is a wiry screen?

His wings weren’t symmetrically tucked in and one foot was attached to the screen a bit higher than the other. This was very different from the glossy pictures I once admired in one of those expensive geography magazines. It was as if he froze as soon as the first rays of sun fanned across the sky, even though he wasn’t quite settled. But he was upside down, so clearly he intended to crash at our place for the day.

While it may have been an invasion of his privacy, I did snap a photo and share it online. I’d never been inches away from a real, most likely alive, bat before. It was a unique experience and I felt compelled to broadcast it.

Upon seeing the post, Hubby immediately contacted me with stern warnings not to touch or bother it in any way. Screaming at me in all caps, he warned me of wild bat dangers. And here I was bragging about our organic Halloween décor.

Other than exposing him to a sudden flash of light and the clicking sounds of a shutter, which my bat friend didn’t seem to notice, I had no plans for bothering him. He was fascinating while asleep. I certainly had no intention of finding out what he was like while awake.

Meanwhile, his lack of reaction to my photography didn’t go unnoticed. I deduced baby bats do not wake their parents up in the middle of the day because of lightning and thunder.

I did want him to feel welcome at our home. Welcome to eat mosquitos. Welcome to tell his friends to come by for a mosquito feast. Welcome to sleep during daylight hours on a second story window screen that no one could access without a ladder. Welcome to stay outside.

He was not welcome inside my house. Hubby made that perfectly clear. Therefore, I was careful not to invite him inside, which I believe means he could not physically enter. All vampires are bats, so it stands to reason all bats could be vampires. While this assumption might be inaccurate, my granny taught me that it is best not to take chances. She always assured us she wasn’t superstitious, but she also always tossed a pinch of spilled salt over her shoulder, “Just in case.”

When I awoke this morning, I was sad to discover my friend had moved on during the night. But his departure did leave me with some happy feelings. I was happy he was alive and well, rather than a stiff corpse stuck to my window screen. I was also happy that there would be a lot fewer mosquitoes attacking my calves the next time I decided to relax on my front porch.

It was an honor to have such an interesting guest. My life is richer for the experience. The next time bats start swooping overhead at dusk, I will appreciate their contributions to our delicate environment. I will still duck my head and run inside, but I will do so in the most hospitable and appreciative manner possible.

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Micki Bare is a columnist for the Arkansas News Bureau and the Courier-Tribune in Asheboro, N.C., and the author of Thurston T. Turtle children’s books. She and her family live in North Carolina. Her e-mail address is mickibare@gmail.com.