Last weekend, David and I ascended into Floyd, Va, nestled beautifully within the Blue Ridge Mountains. Our reward was 2 days of phenomenal music and an unexpected lesson of sorts.
We rented a cabin through Margaret, an extremely welcoming and nice woman I found through the FloydFest web site. The cabin rests on her beautiful 10 acres in the town of Floyd. Upon our arrival, the cabin was cute, but I kept asking David if it was all right. I didn’t really understand my uneasiness at the time, but it surely makes sense retrospectively.
We unloaded the car, went to the fest, and returned around midnight. Hungry and tired from our travels and festing, I sat at the rustic, homemade table eating my crackers and cheese when, SWOOP, SWOOP, right at my head. With his back to the event, David did not notice, and anyway, he is not afflicted by my phobia of flying, flapping things.
“There is a BAT, inside this cabin.” “WHAT?” says he, while I am dodging the bat’s second flight through our head space and leaping for safety under the table. The drop ceiling doesn’t allow my six foot, four inched loved one much head space, but he is calm as I break for the door. Upon further inspection, David finds a second Bat in the bathroom.
While safe and on the other side of the screen, we plan our strategy, which for me, involved sleeping ANYWHERE but inside the cabin. Knowing that the entire area’s lodging has been sold out for months, we still attempt to find something – anything – but to no avail.
Upon our return, our only real option is to pull the mattress and box spring out onto the deck and sleep outside, where the Bats still circled our heads all night, but with an expanse of sky that helps me to not have a mental breakdown. Every moment spun my overactive and imaginitive mind further closer to its edge. As I would talk myself down and employ breathing techniques, the Bat inside would THUMP into the screen door, attempting its escape and relying on its echolocation to steer it towards open air, the screen door being deceptive in its undelivered hope. This THUMPING would repeat itself for hours, its timing perfectly synchronized with my ability to calm myself, thus whirling me into the swirling descent of my fears for another “go ’round”.
About 2 years ago, I read Diane Ackerman’s book, The Moon By Whale Light, which has a chapter devoted to Bats. I have since reread the chapter, and confirmed my knowledge that Bats colonize, which I had remembered that night at the cabin, allowing my mind easy access to images of dozens – if not hundreds – of bats between us and the drop ceiling’s rafters, a Bat colony’s dwelling of choice.
Needless to say, sleep for me that night was pretty nonexistent. Just before dusk, we got drizzled on, but the light of day has an interesting way of calming jumpy nerves. David inspected the place the next morning, and as suspected, the bats had gone to sleep upon daybreak and were nowhere in sight. Not knowing where we would be sleeping or showering the next couple of days, David convinced me a shower would be safe. Still tweaked to high heaven and jumpy, I tiptoed to the shower, careful to not touch anyhing in the place, for fear of Bats emerging from any interrupted crevice.
With me in the shower, David saw from the other room that I hadn’t closed the curtain. Walking towards me, he playfully whipped the curtain shut, only to be met by 2 sleeping Bats falling to the floor and hitting his arm on the way down. Because of my vantage point, I only saw one of the two, but this was enough to begin my tweak fest yet again. I calmly asked David to explain to me exactly how he anticipated I should escape from the corner shower, with a bat between me and my way out. “They aren’t even moving, babe. Are they sleeping, or dead?” The word they had not triggered yet, but I had hair conditioning to finish, damn it, and a calm bat was not going to impede on my much needed shower.
I turned off the water and gathered my courage, trying to figure out which way to pull the curtain open to ensure safe passage. As I whipped the curtain open, the second Bat was revealed, making my only choice a naked and soaking wet leap over the hopefully sleeping creatures of the night. With bottles of shampoo, conditioner, and soap in my hands, I took a running start and leapt over these docile beings to safety, now placing David always between me and them. It took me all of 2 minutes to dry off, dress, and finish packing to remove myself forever from the bat cave.
Margaret was sweet and understanding of our decision to vacate the premises, but obviously wanted to inspect her cabin. “The Bats are right in front of the shower on the floor. We aren’t sure if they are dead or sleeping, but they aren’t moving.”
As we walk to the cabin, I am quite resolved to remain OUTSIDE…uh, DUH, while the inspection occurs. David and Margaret now inside, their walk towards the bathroom reveals the Bats second disappearing act in one day. Margaret steps into the shower, whips open the curtain, and sends the bats a flutter, right toward my protectors head, which sends him bolting out of the cabin, taking a chair down in his path. From the outside, it sounds like the bats are winning this one, and I am happy as a clam to be amidst the light of day and cotton-clouded Virginia sky.
Next, I will reveal the effects this episode had upon my psyche and understanding of universal truths.