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Bats in my belfry


Friday night, my daughter and her BFF wanted to have their BBF (Best Boy Friends) over for roasted weenies and some mores on the fire pit I built last spring. I crumpled some newspaper at the bottom of a circle of bricks, broke some dried sticks and laid them teepee style on top of the paper, moving up in size as the pile grew in height. Confident I had my “one match fire” ready to go, I moved onto other things. When the boys arrived and wanted to eat I got my orders to light the fire, and tended it until I knew it would take care of itself with a little help from the troops.

It was a nice evening, a gentle cooling after a hot day in the 80’s. Unseasonable for this time of year, in this geographic location, but like it or not, climate change is upon us. Just ask Californians. Or Oklahomans. Or Mississippians. If it’s not drought and related forest fires, it’s tornadoes, lots of ‘em and big ones too. No water on the West Coast, too much along the mighty Mississippi, flooding lands well ahead of the “100 year flood” time table. So I will not complain about the cold winters or the hot summers. Still I will savor those cool spring nights, when the sun disappears and the air cools. Not too cold, not too hot, just right. Just like Goldilocks likes it.

Tonight I sat on the deck in back of my house in my cedar chair with slats that perfectly match the curvature of your back and spine. No need for a cushion, the pressure from your shoulders down your back into your buttocks and upper thighs is so evenly divided, the wood is actually soothing to aching muscles. The sun had already disappeared behind the trees, the blue was fading but still enough light to silhouette the trees against the sky. My Deep Woods Off was keeping the bugs at bay, they buzzed angrily around my ears until I sprayed both of them. My ears, that is. “So there you go you buzzing little bastards,” I cried, “try and bite me now.”

They must have heard me, buzzing in front of me but keeping a safe distance. Overhead the bats began to feed. I leaned my head back. First one, then two, then as many as four and five, all doing their aerial acrobatics in search of food. How amazing they are, using echolocation to find those tiny little winged bastards. The bats would fly in a ever tightening circle that dash quickly to the left or right in pursuit of a crafty bug. Every so often two bats would home in on the same bug. Probably a big juicy one that had already feasted on someone’s arm or leg, a bug with an extra treat on board. The larger and more dominant bat would always beat the smaller one to the prize or chase the smaller one off.

The first star appeared, then another. I could have stayed longer, so peaceful, so quiet it was. But the kids were wanting some privacy. I heard one say, “Your dad’s still out here,” secrets to be kept. “Don’t burn the woods down,” I shouted to them as I went inside, remembering the many nights around a campfire, and wanting them to have similar memories of their own.

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