We grew up in the home where my dad was born. The middle room contained a door that opened to a short, steep flight of unfinished wooden stairs leading to the attic. It was dark, ominous and terrifying to kids who lived in more modern homes. I loved the attic. The best feature
the door, was completely camouflaged. Knotty pine paneling covered the entire wall including the door without a knob or handle. That corner of the room was always a promise of intrigue or surprise.
It was summer with windows fully open to the screens. It was dark and the air was thick. The middle room was alive with activity of children moving through baths, pjs and evening TV. An aberrant sound of “thunk” caused us to notice. Then it happened again. “MOM!” we bellowed.
Thunk, pause. Thunk, pause. The sound was fleeting as though moving from one side of the room to another. Dad happened to arrive home and listened. “I’ll bet there’s a bird that gotten into the attic. Let’s see.”
He wedged his thick fingers below the door’s edge and pulled it open. A creak and whine of swollen wood released a small, speedy flash of black, darting, diving and careening like nothing we had seen. Mom and dad moved far more quickly than usual. Arms flailed as they covered their heads.
We children began to howl. The noise and movement seemed to nearly spin out of control until Mom returned with the BROOM. She swung once,maybe twice, as dad ducked to avoid contact. She was really athletic, but Dad grabbed the broom and finally hit the unknown, sinister, flying kamikaze.
A collective gasp was audible.Our parents searched to locate the launched intruder. It was a tiny, furry creature much like a baby field mouse. Its body was no bigger than a three year olds’ palm. A Bat. Dad,the biology teacher,pulled exposing the beautiful wings. We were in awe. “Bill, get it outside!” my mother said, because the little darling was not dead. It had already survived knocking itself out repeatedly trying to escape the attic. I am amazed even today how little it takes to create excitement, havoc, uncertainty and wonder.
Traveling with friends by boat throughout the red-rocked walls that cradle Lake Powell in the heat of summer is a sacred experience. The expanse and technicolor of sky, butte, rim, rock and water are simply an indescribable experience. It was our first day. We’d been on the water for 3-4 hours and were starting think about a place to anchor for dinner and the night. We saw an isthmus that was low and expansive.
Behind it was a huge arch of brilliant red sand stone that resembled a massive anterior jaw or lip of an amphitheater. We anchored and cavorted on the land. The sun was setting as the skies’ pink and blue ribbons intertwined. The quiet surrounded us like bunting. The air ceased moving.
The light and sky were in union creating hot magenta flows as the sun dropped like a heavy orb on the
Slack -jawed and stunned by this beauty we stood transfixed. This cosmic moment of perfection was suddenly assaulted by an infestation of sand fleas, flying,sucking hungry insects. We swatted, scratched and flailed. Within a moment the turmoil of our discomfort was abated by both sound and vibration from behind. A collective breath exhaled from the amphitheater’s rocky interior as thousands of bats winged
into view. Their shadowy movements, and dances stirred the air. It was mesmerizing. Within milliseconds the biting, torments ceased. Calm and beauty were restored. Bats are amazing.
One summer night while reading in bed, an unexpected movement just above the rim of my book caught my attention. I lowered the book close to my chest. The erratic darting of black fabric continued. “Gary,” I stated flatly, “We have a bat.” “Where?” he asked, trying to stall.
We both laid there watching as the frightened creature as it did a death defying dance with the fan blades. “Well, are YOU going to take care of it?” I nagged. He responded by hurling a nearby magazine into the air followed with another and then a book.
How can a grown man act so prissy? My cowboy, athlete, tool-wielding, six-foot-eight-husband reverts into his eight year old self who is sacred witless of vampire bats. Young Gary protected himself from attack by winding a large bath towel around his head and neck and clutch Zippy his sock monkey for protection. “Get over it!” I jeered. Begrudgingly my valiant husband crawled up from our mattress on the floor and quickly donned his black cowboy hat for head protection. This was quite a vision,a tall, naked guy with a cowboy hat leaping into his closet. He comes out swinging
(I mean strong>everything swinging)with a gym towel in hand snapping it into the air.
This is a rodeo I would pay to see again. I was howling with laughter. I’m still not sure if it was if it was embarrassment or childlike fear the bat would bite some tender part. Diving into closet, Gary emerged cloaked in a full length terry robe with a monk hood to shield his neck. In full battle dress, MAN finally overcame the bat. Ever careful he selected channel pliers to carry it outside. My hero. I laughed until cried. Boy, can my cowboy dance.