Mary's Farm: Bats in the Bedroom
One night last summer, I was lying in bed reading, my dog asleep against my side. A comfortable silence enveloped us as the slight breezes of the midnight hour moved through the curtains. Suddenly, an intruder cruised through the doorway into the room on silent wings. I jerked the covers up over everything but my eyes and watched in horror as this creature took possession of my room. The bat itself wasn’t that big, but its shadow, cast from the light of my bedside lamp, created an image of something like a stealth bomber circling to land. In frantic loops, the shadow orbited erratically, the perfect prelude to an Alfred Hitchcock film. Then, as silently and suddenly as the bat had arrived, he exited.
I lay there for a minute, wondering where he might have gone. My dog snored on. I slunk out of bed and, on hands and knees, made my way out to the hallway. I turned on the light. My brain was mud. My heart was panicked. I recalled with intense nostalgia the night my late husband had herded a bat out of the house with the kitchen broom while I’d crouched, mortified, in the corner. I couldn’t even think where the broom was. I tried to remember whether bats were drawn to soft light or repelled by it. Judging by the fact that he’d come into my lighted room from the darkened house, I decided they were drawn to it. At that moment, the bat swooped into the hallway from the kitchen and grazed my head. I hit the carpet and lay there, flattened, until the raid had passed. Then I resumed my crawl to the living room.
I turned on the light over the porch and opened the door. Hoping he would fly out there, I hunkered down in a chair in the dark living room and waited. Hours passed. No sign of the bat. At last, he zipped by me out to the porch. I leapt up, but before I could close the door, he zipped back inside. By dawn, I was not only exhausted but clueless. Where had he gone? Where was he hiding?
As soon as the hour was decent, I began calling friends for helpful suggestions. One of them told me to wait for dark, and leave all the lights on in the house and the door open. “He’ll leave,” he said. Another went into very great detail about where bats would hide. “My father always found them behind the chiffonier,” he said. “He had the knack of being able to nudge them into a paper bag and carry them outdoors.” The implication was that there were lots of bats hiding in lots of tiny slots around the house. I didn’t want to follow that thought. Another friend suggested a butterfly net. I pictured myself capturing the little Dracula that way. I called yet another friend and asked to borrow his fishnet. By noon, I had it at the ready beside the back door.
When darkness fell, I was watchful, primed for action. I allowed him the run of the house but slept with my bedroom door shut, lest he decide to make another reconnaissance flight. The night passed without incident. Then another. Cautiously, I left my door open. A week passed. Then another. I never saw the bat again. I don’t know how long they can live behind furniture or under the windowsill. I’ve invested in a fishnet of my own, and I’m still waiting.
The View from Mary’s Farm, a collection of Edie’s Yankee Magazine essays, plus her new book, Saturday Beans and Sunday Suppers, are available at edieclark.com