The other night, I stirred from sleep around 3 a.m. and my husband said, “There’s a bat in the room.”
“Now I’m awake,” I said.
About a year ago we were watching the BBC nature series “Planet Earth,” when a bat appeared in the living room. It swooped and chittered, and even though I like to think I’m pretty laid-back about wild animals, I flapped my hands and shrieked a little (but who am I kidding?). It flew out of the room and we searched the house for it, clueless about what we would do if we found it.
We didn’t find the bat that night nor the next day. Someone told us to check behind all the curtains. I went to the hardware store and bought a butterfly net, and we kept checking, but it never reappeared. We didn’t know how it got in and were mystified that it apparently got back out right away.
So on Tuesday night we were lying in bed, muttering about what to do (conclusion: go back to sleep). I was pretty keyed up though, so I got up and went to the bathroom where something was rustling behind the curtains. The curtains!
I went back to bed but soon heard fluttering, and in the dim light from the electric clock I could see a shadow swooping overhead.
This was not an entirely new experience. My family’s summer cottage is a log cabin that is over 80 years old—not exactly bat-proof. There’s plenty of space for roosting and swooping under the peak of the roof, but it doesn’t seem as big a deal to have bats in the bedroom there. After all, it’s practically like camping.
Anyway, the bat settled down and started rustling the in corner of bedroom. Amazingly, the dog was still asleep.
After a while, we didn’t hear the bat anymore, so my husband got up to go to the bathroom. He turned on the light in the hall and said, “It’s on the bookcase.” I got up to see for myself, and there it was, hanging on the spine of Servants of the Map. Its body was about three inches long, and under other circumstances, I would say it was cute.
I went downstairs to get the net, edging past the bookcase and avoiding eye contact with the bat as if it were the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal.
It turned out to be easy to put the net over the bat on the bookshelf, but not so easy to contain the bat, it being considerably bigger than a butterfly.
This is when things got exciting.
The bat started swooping through the upstairs hall, bedroom and bathroom. The dog was up and interested now. I held him by the collar with one hand and swung the net at the bat with the other, crouching and saying, “oh-god-oh-god-oh-god” and, for unknown reasons, “I’m-sorry-I’m-sorry-I’m-sorry-I’m-sorry.”
The bat soon got tired of this nonsense and alighted on the hallway curtains (facing out into the room not behind them). We argued about the best type of thing to cap the net with if we caught the bat again. My husband decided on a pillowcase and took the net, we closed the bedroom and bathroom doors, and I waited at the bottom of the stairs with no particular plan.
Almost immediately he said, “I’ve got it!,” and carried net, bat, and pillowcase downstairs and out the front door. We left everything in the yard until morning, by which time the net held only a couple of pill bugs.
It didn’t seem like it should have been over so quickly. I didn’t go back sleep at all, and I think it will be a few weeks before I stop waking in the night to listen for rustling behind the curtains.