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I'll See Myself Out

Monday, May 29, 2023


I’m limp with relief, giddy with joy. I’ve waited to write this post until Something Else happened. I knew something else was about to happen. I made this video the night of May 27. I’ve been so busy, stretched so thin, that I’ve released my four female bats without blogging about it. I’ve done a LOT of interesting things lately without blogging about them. The four female bats were ready for the big time the first week of May, and I was only too happy to release them, knowing that if I didn’t get them out, they might drop pups on me. Then I’d be saddled with caring for mother and baby until the pups were ready to fly…arrggh. Nope. Way beyond my expertise. The two males, for whatever reason, didn’t take to the wing like the females did, and I held them back for more flight practice. 

 When I made this video, I knew it would be Carmelo’s and my last night together. I wanted a little memento of just how special he is. He’s so perfect, so aware, so beautiful. And so very gentle. Of all six bats I had this winter, Carmelo was the gentlest. He never so much as cussed at me. I can’t say the same for Lustofin, Laura, Poppy, or Fuchsia. Even my little darling Jolie Blonde turned cussy as spring neared. Who could blame her? She was likely pregnant, and pregnant people don’t willingly put up with fools.

 And I am a fool. I’ve got this nice hi-tech tent, and I decided that Carmelo and Lustofin, who were lagging far behind the females, would fly better and faster if I just set them free in it and let them fly around unsupervised each night. It was great, and it worked for Carmelo. Within just a few nights, Carmelo got sharper and sharper, and he flew better each night I came in to exercise them. Lustofin isn’t flying well, and that’s another story—he’s not ready yet. He’s on two antibiotics now, and is about to go on an antiparasitic. More on that later… But Carmelo! You can see and hear the beauty of his flight in this video. I watched him do four rounds of the tent, with an expert about-face in mid-air, and a perfect drop into his little hamper, and I knew he was ready. Ready to go home. Ready to go free. Tomorrow night, May 28, my mom’s 103rd birth anniversary, Carmelo would be released at last! I’d been caring for him since New Year’s Eve, when he was found hanging in a doorway inside Monkey’s Uncle Tattoo Parlor in Harmar Village, Marietta. 

 I came out this morning, May 28, to check and see where Carmelo and Lustofin spent the night. They’ve always willingly returned to their hamper, to sleep in the folded fleece curtains hanging there. Just like in the video--it was so cute!  I lifted the fleece, and there was Lustofin. But where was Carmelo? For the next two hours, I searched that tent, high and low. I came back with a broom and dustpan. Took everything out of it, unfurled every single piece of nylon and window covering; turned my little camp table over, turned the chair over, looked in every pocket and cranny. NOTHING. Carmelo had left the building. But HOW? It was zipped up tight; I always neurotically checked the zippers twice when I left them in the evening after feeding. I found the hole. It was a little port made to admit an extension cord. An inch across, plenty for a clever bat. How he found it I have no idea--the nylon all around it is slick and I'd never seen either bat try to crawl on it or cling to it. But it's the only hole in the tent.

And that clever little bat had found the ONE portal in the entire 14 x 10’ tent, and seen himself out. And out was into my four-car garage, which was closed up tight for the night. Ohh boy. I knew the chances of finding a 3” long brown bat in that enormous garage were slim to none. I told myself that if he could find a 1” portal in a big nylon tent, he could certainly find a hole in a four-car garage to let himself out. But. Maybe he couldn’t. Maybe he was still in the garage, having fallen into a box, an old stovepipe baffle, a slick-sided flowerpot. Maybe he was trapped somewhere. Arrrgh. My mind went all kinds of places. I tried to keep it from going to pieces. I kept reminding myself what a clever bat my Carmelo was. 

And I resolved to go out to the garage at the Witching Hour of 9:15, when it’s finally dark, to see if he was flying around in there. I kept myself busy all day long, potting and moving plants, planting the tomatoes, emptying the greenhouse, watering, watering, watering. I can’t believe how many plants I have to deal with, but I got them all out of the plastic hut. Just in time too…it’s stifling hot in there now! I laid my two Creole Lady hibiscii on their sidse, and sprayed the bejesus out of them, washing away a living crawling felt of green aphids. I repotted the big one, marveling that she’s only two years old and taller than I am. 

 I fed a batch of orphaned baby birds every hour on the hour (another story there, too). Finally it was dusk, finally I could go out to the garage. I opened the small garage door and the first thing I heard was the flicker of leathern wings. CARMELO!! He circled and did figure eights in the light of my headlamp. He dove down and circled twice around my head! Then he flew up high into the rafters and tucked himself behind a beam. Just to be granted this sight of him flying like a star pilot; to know he was alive and well and ready to go; to be able to say hello again and goodbye, was such an enormous gift. I was overwhelmed with joy. I hurried over and opened the garage door on one end, then opened the two garage doors on the other end of the building. I flung the people door wide. I grabbed a chair and sat for almost an hour, listening, hoping to hear him fly down and out. I couldn’t hear anything. Perhaps he was resting. Perhaps he’d flown out as the doors were grinding open. I would never know. No matter.

 I didn’t need to see him go. Any bat who could find a 1” flap-covered cord hole halfway up the side of a slick nylon tent could find three huge garage door openings. Carmelo would be free tonight, free to course the meadows for moths, to dart through the blinking lightning bugs. To fly back to Marietta, if he wanted, to the brick streets he came from. He could do whatever he wanted, and this was the perfect moment I’d been working for since December 31. I was so glad that moment was granted to me. As for Carmelo, he knew when he was ready, and he made it easy for me. Sort of, if you don't count a few hours searching and maybe 10 hours worrying and that perfect hour sitting in the dark garage with the moonlight coming in and the crickets tuning up, and the lightning bugs playing all around in the soft almost-summer air.


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