Our final two nights in New Hampshire were made exciting by the appearance of a bat in the house. Friday night, I was reading on the couch around 8:30pm when I heard Andrew yell and scuffle in the kitchen. He came running out, panicked: a bat had flown out of the pantry, straight at his head. Behind him, I saw the bat swoop out of the kitchen, into the dining room. Quickly, we closed off that room; there’s a door leading to the outside from that room, and I went outside and opened it up. One of the doors to the room was in the barn, so I held a blanket over that doorway while Andrew ran outside to get it. Behind the blanket was a clear fwap fwap fwap. Once the door was in place, we waited, listening. Andrew looked in from the outside; the bat was swooping back and forth across the room. After a while, we didn’t hear it anymore. After a very long while, Andrew decided to go in and look around. The bat was gone. Or so we thought.
Late that night, around 5:00am, I woke up. The sun was just beginning to rise, and I decided to go into the girls’ rooms and pull their curtains closed so they wouldn’t wake up too early; we’d left them open since the night was so hot. I closed Greta’s curtains. Then I went into Lucia’s room and pulled her curtain closed. As I did so, I thought I heard a flutter, like a moth. But it sounded like such a large, meaty moth that I peeked behind the curtain. There, pressed against her window, silhouetted against the dim morning light, was the bat.
I threw her curtain closed, ran to our room, and hissed at Andrew: “THE BAT. THE BAT. THE BAT IS IN LUCIA’S ROOM.” Andrew did not immediately wake up, or understand. “WE HAVE TO GET LUCIA. THE BAT. THE BAT.” I ran back into Lucia’s room, scooped her up, and resettled her on our bed. (She stayed asleep.) Andrew was standing up, blinking in confusion, as I whisper-screamed at him: “THE BAT IS IN LUCIA’S ROOM!!!! CLOSE HER DOOR!!! CLOSE OUR DOOR!!!” It was too late. Behind him, I saw the bat swoop out of Lucia’s room and fly down the hallway. For an hour, Andrew searched the house. But the bat, again, was gone. We resettled Lucia in her bed and tried to sleep.
The next morning, Saturday, Andrew was nearly paralyzed with unease. He wouldn’t help get the girls ready to go to the farmer’s market; he wouldn’t call our cousin for advice; he wouldn’t do anything. I perused a Yellow Pages from the early nineties, found several entries for Pest Control, and called one that specialized in Nuisance Wildlife; no one picked up. One by one, the girls had meltdowns, and I shouted at Andrew that he, paralyzed husband, was the true nuisance wildlife after all. It was not a good morning.
But we rallied. We went to the farmer’s market. We came home and Andrew spent over an hour searching for the bat. He went room by room, peering under beds and between books and behind picture frames. There was no sign of the bat, no sound, no sighting. Surely, we decided, the bat was gone. There was absolutely nowhere it could have been hiding. We had a nice day of playing in the kiddie pool and then swimming at our cousin’s house. Still, we waited for dusk with some degree of apprehension, fearing that the bat was still at large.
We put the girls to bed (after a thorough search of the upstairs). We made a fire pit and roasted s’mores. We had a glass of wine. We went to bed. Andrew carried his headlamp, a small broom, and one of the girl’s butterfly nets up with him, just in case we had another middle-of-the-night Event. He realized he’d left his glasses downstairs. He clicked on the hall light as he made his way back down to the now-darkened downstairs…and saw the bat swoop by between the banister rails. By now Andrew had become bound and determined that he would prevail over the bat, so he suited up—hooded sweatshirt, headlamp, butterfly net, broom—and crept downstairs. He ignored my pleas to not hurt the bat, to be sure to be careful of its wings. There was scuffling, and slammed doors; and Andrew called me down: he’d trapped the bat in the living room. The door to the outside in that room was open, and he was now going to go into the room and either shoo the bat out or catch it in his net.
When Andrew went in, the bat was hanging in a corner of the room, surely scared and weak by now. After a minute or so, he called me in. He’d caught the bat in the butterfly net. He was in near-panic: “It’s in the net. It’s in the net. I don’t know what to do. It’s in the net. It’s in the net.” We draped a blanket over the net and Andrew ran with it outside, down to the road. He threw the net and ran back to the house. After a few minutes, he went back to the net. The bat was gone—this time, for good.
Every July, with the fields crowded with wildflowers and the tadpoles peeking from the pond, nearly frogs, we seem to encounter wildlife in extreme forms. Last year, there were mice everywhere, and Andrew caught one in his hands. This year we have more bugs than usual—earwigs, moths, ants, wasps, spiders; the ladybug infestation in late May—and, of course, the bat. “A bat?” Lucia said when we casually told her what was happening. “Like at Halloween?” Not Halloween, not yet, but certainly summer here brings its own kind of haunting.
Oh: you might be wondering where the bat came from, and where it was hiding all day. We’re pretty sure Andrew himself brought the bat into the house when he brought in a cardboard box full of ancient mason jars that he’d found in the attic of the barn. Or it might have come down an unused chimney in the pantry. And we think the bat was hiding—creepily—right in the kitchen, in or near the garbage can. All day, both of us remarked on how bad the trash smelled, even though we’d taken the trash to the dump Saturday morning, on our way to the farmer’s market. After Andrew caught the bat—the terrible smell was gone.