Bats in the Belfry

I started the summer with a couple of blogs about birds. That’s old news.

We now have a bat. Not bats – plural – just one little Canyon bat that showed up several days ago and taught me a valuable lesson.

My sisters came to visit me for a few days. We don’t see each other much, but amazingly, it doesn’t matter. There is something about our relationship that defies time and distance.

Now, we three women could not be more different. Sheila is, by her own account, cautious, a devout Christian and pretty darn conservative. Ginna is 7 years younger than me. She is a Reiki master, an animal rights proponent (I was really nervous about cooking for her) and about as liberal as they come. I’m the oldest and if you think I’m liberal, I’m Attila the Hun compared to Ginna.

I love them both and we respect and love each other, but man do we have some interesting conversations. But, what does this have to do with the bat?

You know how some people freak out about snakes? Well, bats are my snakes. It probably stems from the time we had a bat in our house in Cleveland and I made Russ and our neighbor, John, “get it.” I’ll never forget watching them from the curb take a butterfly net, a dog and a tennis racket into our house to capture a 4-inch animal. (For the animal rights folks reading: the dog actually flushed it out and they captured it without hurting it.)

And then there were all the stories about vampires. I mean you would have to live under a rock to not know about Edward and the sparkling vampires of the west coast who don’t fly – they run super fast. I was raised on other slightly more sinister stories involving blood and wooden stakes and vampires whose mode of transportation was as bats.

So, a few days ago, this little bat showed up by the front door of the schnabin. I was sure that we were going to have a rerun of the Cleveland story or worse, so you should picture me sitting on my deck in my hoodie prepared to cover my head just in case this creature decided to wake up and swoop down on me unexpectedly. I was pretty sure he was going to get stuck in my hair. I was also pretty sure that he was going to wake up from his nap and fly into the house, so every time someone went in or out of the door I made sure it was shut tightly. Sheila was right there with me.

On the other end of the spectrum were my two little grandchildren, Drew and Hazel, who thought this was about the best thing that I could have provided in the way of entertainment. And Ginna added to the glamour, telling them stories about bats, where they lived, what they ate and other interesting factoids.

We named him – Barnabas – for those of you who do not know the significance – see the 1960’s soap opera Dark Shadows.

A funny thing happened: Once we gave him a name, I noticed a significant shift in my thinking. I actually felt like I knew him – maybe even could get to like him. I had to admit; he was kind of cute – sort of like a tiny hamster hanging upside down sleeping.

Isn’t that what happens when we put a face to a “problem?” It’s easy to talk about the illegal immigrant, until you meet him. Or the homeless person until you actually sit down and talk to her. We all have stories. We all deserve to be valued as creatures of this universe.

I had so many old, stupid stereotypes tucked away that I couldn’t see Barnabas until my sister and my g-babies made me really look at him. Damn, he was cute and so small that if he ever actually got stuck in my hair, I could simply pick him out and send him be on his way. And by the way, he eats bugs and does not suck blood, so that’s a bonus.

On the last night that my sisters were here, Ginna sat with Drew and Hazel at dusk as Barnabas woke up. I joined them (sans hoodie). It was kind of cool. We watched him wiggle around and stretch out his wings and finally fly away. I’m not gonna lie – the wings were a little creepy, but it was like watching one of the god’s creatures get ready for their day (or the night shift in this case). Pretty cool.

Everyone left for home yesterday. I got up this morning and checked to see if Barnabas had returned to his perch. Alas, he wasn’t there. He must have sensed that those who accepted him had gone. I hope he comes back. I promise, I’ve learned my lesson.

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