Our brief Northern summer means that much must be done outdoors even if we are retired and no longer have animals to lay in supplies for against the long winter to follow. Time too to travel while the weather can (more-or-less!) be relied upon. Already, now, at the beginning of September, the nights have gained two hours on the days. Before long we will watch, as the day comes to a close, for indications that it would be wise to cover the tomatoes. I have neglected Jacob Erdman ove the last while but now that September has come I hope to post new matrial at least once a week. Here to begin with, is another episode in our JTWROS saga.
We have not played host to a bat for some years now but in the early days down here, when the old house was still pretty much as it had been for the past fifty or more years, the occasional bat would creep down from the attic past one of the chimneys for a midnight stock-taking flight, with rather predictable results, especially after we had put together a bit of money to buy aluminum storm and screens.
It was 4:46 in the morning when the bat appeared for the first time.
I know it was 4:46 because I looked at my watch. I bought a digital watch for an absurdly low price several years ago, so I would have something to take with me to the hayfield. If it died of a surfeit of hayseed I would not even have to shed a tear, as I would if my faithful, if rather inaccurate pocket turnip were to get crunched.
My ten-dollar special not only did not die it has survived numerous crises and continues to tell time with depressing accuracy. Long after digital time has been discarded by the cognoscenti, I am still trying to remember whether 4:46 is one minute before or one minute after the quarter hour. Math was never my strong point.
So, when my nearest and dearest gave me a poke in the ribs with her elbow and announced that I was to do something about our little friend, I was able to know exactly when my well-earned rest had been shattered.
There is something about a bat. What it is I don't know, but one's reaction to its fluttering is a trifle cautious. If the guest were a bumblebee, even, one's approach would be simple and direct. With our bat, though, I found myself ducking involuntarily every time batsy flapped by.
Of course I did what any hero of the people would do when confronted, at 4:46 in the morning, with a summons to "do something about that bat!" I opened the door to our room and politely stood aside. Not being slow of study, the bat, after a zoom or two around the room, was out the door and into the shadows of the hall. Thinking that he or she would be grateful for an opportunity to sample night-life in the great outdoors, I opened a window in the bathroom and returned to bed, shutting our bedroom door as I went. A moment or so later I was again sleeping the sleep of the just - now with more right, because I had heroically solved a difficult problem.
It was 5:11 when another poke in the ribs announced that the bat felt the outdoors was not as appealing as sharing a few precious moments with us.
If it is hard to be awakened from a sound sleep at 4:46 a.m. when that sort of thing is not part of your daily routine, it is even worse to be awakened at 5:11 after already having been awakened at 4:46 - if you see what I mean.
This time, fortunately, I did not have to work out a new strategy. Avoiding, as best I could, the bat's air-space - particularly after my wife suggested from beneath the bedclothes that rabies might be a reason for flapsy's presence - I again opened the door and oh-so-graciously wished it god-speed.
Again the bat flew down the hall. It went right past the open bathroom door. I noted that but decided it was just a glitch in the navigation system which the bat would correct very quickly. As for me, I again shut the bedroom door and composed myself for slumber. My wife, however, wanted to know how the bat got into our room in the first (and second) place? "Magic," I mumbled, and shut my eyes.
It was not a convincing answer, and my eyes re-opened. A few moments later (at 5:16 to be exact), my wife, in a stage-whisper, announced the solution: the dear little thing was back again with us, having crawled under our door to get there.
Really. I am all for the wonders of nature. I think bats are fine corporate citizens. No doubt their habits are a marvel to contemplate, and worthy of prolonged study. However, I also think a good night's sleep is even more worthy of celebration, and this was not being a good night.
Once again I crawled out of my warm bed and opened the door. This time I took the precaution of stuffing a towel under the door when I closed it, and so, at last, was able to gather a few moments of sleep in what was left of the night. Where the bat went I don't know. Where do bats go when they are not fluttering about in your bedroom or squeezing under your door? I don't wish to intrude on their privacy and I would hope that they would not wish to intrude on mine.
The fact that there were no blood-curdling shrieks from any of our sleeping youngsters suggests that the bat had also had enough - for one night. 24 September 1986