Country folk we are not

Yet, we still manage to get by in situations where my growing-up-on-a-farm relatives would have clearly excelled.

It started innocently enough. A typical 4:15 a.m. Saturday morning sojourn to the kitchen to feed the ever-pesky Julius. Stumble down the dark stairs, through the hall and dining room, into the kitchen. As Julius was eating, I noticed pesky-cat-Jr., Rory, frisking around the dining room instead of coming in to eat.

Why is he playing now, the little brat?

Julius half-heartedly looked up from his bowl toward Rory, then resumed eating.

I thought…This isn’t normal. Oh, geez, maybe there’s a mouse!

So I flick on the dining room light to have a look, and WINGS! CIRCLING! CHAOS! OH MY GOD IT’S A BAT!

“MIKE, MIKE! HURRY UP! THERE’S A BAT!” I screamed to my poor sound-asleep husband, as both cats leapt around the room. He quickly stumbled down the stairs.

Intellectually, we like bats. Like having them around our house. Know they eat tons of bugs every night. Concerned they are endangered by the mysterious white-nose syndrome fungus.

But it’s another story when one seemingly 3-feet wide is flapping around your living room.

Quickly, we pondered what to do.

“Get the broom on the front porch,” seemed the logical first step. But then what? We have no doors on our first floor to trap it in a room. It had free reign.

Open the vestibule door and the front door? Turn the light on? Maybe it’ll go out.

No such luck, of course. It continued to circle and swoop, while we continued to duck and the cats continued to leap.

What we didn’t want was for it to go upstairs.

So that’s what happened next.

Fortunately, it settled in the spare room, and we closed it in. Then we did what any non-country-folk do when confronted with an unfamiliar situation: We Googled it. Mike went upstairs to his computer, which, of course, had downloaded updates and needed to restart, which took 10 minutes. In the meantime, I started up my computer, and eventually we were both searching madly.

“Catch bat house” yielded some helpful tips (and some concerns about rabies). We gathered more bat-catchin’ gear — Mike’s tennis racket, a big flower pot I had just purchased (in lieu of a bucket), jackets and caps for both of us — even though it was like 80 degrees that night — but no gloves (too lazy to go out to the garage). (Humorously, as we went searching for a cap for me in Mike’s vast collection, he handed me a Pirates cap. That led to a comment that that probably wasn’t the best choice, as the Pirates can’t do anything with bats…)

Finally, thus armed, we went in, with thoughts of The Office episode where Dwight captures a bat in a bag around Meredith’s head…and she had to get rabies shots.

Didn’t see the bat anywhere.

Quickly opened both windows and hoped for the best. A giant moth immediately flew in. But as for the bat, nothin’.

So we timidly went looking. Was it clinging to the inside of the radiator cover? Was it under the dressing table? The ironing board? On top of the ceiling fan? It could be anywhere!

No, No, No, No.

Mike finally found it, huddled on the floor in the far corner, wedged between the armoire and the wall.

No tools for that, so off I went to get a yardstick.

We had read that bats have a hard time getting airborne once they’re on the ground, so as Mike nudged him out, we stood by with our flower pot and tennis racket to trap him. After some flapping and fluttering, Mike managed to pin him (gently) under the racket. I went off in search of cardboard to slide under him.

It’s amazing that tiny, mouse-like thing was the cause of so much trouble. After a few tense minutes, it worked! The bat was wedged between the cardboard and the tennis racket, and Mike took him to the window and set him free. Then we closed the windows pretty darn quick! (The moth didn’t fare so well.)

By now, an hour had passed and it was starting to get light out. We noticed tiny bat droppings on the floor, and sighed to think of the clean-up. Wide awake, of course, we laid in bed and rehashed our experience. I talked about my dad and my Aunt Annie & Uncle Leo, hearty country folk, and how that wouldn’t have phased them a bit. Mike recounted how he and a friend had caught a bat in his grandmother’s house, after it conveniently landed in the punch bowl on top of the very same china cupboard we now have in our dining room. We lamented I hadn’t grabbed the camera to take a picture of the little guy (once safely trapped, of course). We both laughed at the tales of our friends, who have had two bat-catching escapades in their house, and shuddered again at my sister’s experience, in which she woke up from a sound sleep last year to find a bat crawling up the bedclothes toward her!

As near as we can tell, the bat got in through the chimney. One of the many brilliant previous owners of this-old-house had punched a hole in the top of the tile fireplace, presumably to vent gas logs or some such nonsense. It had been covered by a screen (admittedly not very well), which evidently had come loose. So of course, Mike jury-rigged something to cover it up again, and coming up with a permanent fix is now on our shortlist. Although, we should be safe for another 5 years, right?

Finally, we drifted off to sleep, battle weary and bat wise, with me knowing full well you never forget your first time. But just in case…

The horror of that moment,” the King went on,
“I shall never, never forget!”
“You will, though,” the Queen said,
“if you don’t make a memorandum of it.”
~ Lewis Carroll,
Through the Looking Glass, 1872


  1. RL said,

    Friday, June 18, 2010 at 1:40 pm

    This reminds me of memory from childhood–one of my girlfriends had a bat in her house. Fortunately for the family, mom was rather large-busted, and dad was quick on his feet. He grabbed his wife’s bra, “cupped” the little bastard, and flung it back out the window!

  2. WritingbyEar said,

    Monday, June 21, 2010 at 12:50 pm

    Wow — now that’s using your head…or something.

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