For most of my life my very curly, somewhat long hair has been a catch-all for things that land, fly or fall into it. Mosquitos. Dragonflies. A wasp. A cicada. Moths and butterflies. Pieces of leaves, seeds, wisps of dandelion. Lunch, dinner, windblown debris.
It is not unusual to be standing around conversing with someone when they will suddenly stop speaking, get a funny expression on their face, reach over and pull out a twig or piece of fuzz entwined in a curl. It has gotten to the point where I recognize that look and wonder what surprise they will find this time.
Many lives ago as a teenager, hanging out in a bar that I was legally too young to be in, I casually struck a match to light a cigarette when the head of the match broke off and landed in my long, dark hair, quickly and dramatically igniting one side of it. Instantly a number of guys leaped forward to put out the flames (by smashing me in the head). Luckily the damage was minimal, but you can imagine what burning hair smells like. Any image of cool that I had hoped to portray went up in flames during that moment.
This summer has been particularly prolific in regards to catching objects. I’ve managed to trap lawn clippings, herbs, flower petals and pieces of asphalt. Every day when I rinse my hair in the shower, something interesting gets washed down the drain. The biggest catch this month was a large beetle that must have flown into my hair while I was out walking the dog one night and hitched a ride into the house. I was actually in bed when I felt something very large sitting on top of my head, reached up and threw it before even knowing what it was. This Grapevine Beetle was almost the size of half dollar. I admit I was both fascinated and freaked out by it. A beautiful scarab, but not one I want to be wearing.
What has started me on this topic is the fact that there was a bat in the bedroom yesterday afternoon. I had just come home from spending a few intensely sweaty hours in high temperatures helping a friend pack, sort and haul items from her barn. I turned on the fan and plopped down on top of my bed for a few minutes to rest before getting into the shower, when suddenly a bat swooped by my face and started bouncing around the room. This bedroom is rather small and the bat was rather large and somewhat frantic. There really wasn’t room for both of us to comfortably exist in that space.
Historically, I have been able to handle a snake in the house with aplomb. I’ve dealt with mice many, many times. I love seeing the bats outside on a summer evening. But there is something about the crazy trajectory of a wall-banging bat trapped in a room (with me) that I have never handled very well.
I ran out of there pretty fast, with the dog right behind me. I don’t know how or where it might have gotten in. In past homes the bats have entered at night, through the chimney. But the chimney here is blocked off. Bats are nocturnal and this one appeared in broad daylight. While it might not necessarily be sick, from my reading it was not the usual and would be considered Odd Behavior.
I stood out in the hallway and let the S.O. know there was a bat in the bedroom. He went into the room to check it out. I was assuming he would Do Something, but he came back out into the hallway, commenting “That’s one big-ass bat in there!”, stuffed some towels under the closed door and left for an appointment.
So there I was. alone in the house with the bat trapped in my bedroom. The windows were closed, so it wasn’t able to leave. I posted the current situation on social media and got a number of amusing responses, experiences and suggestions. Basically all I needed to do was be brave, go into the room and open the window to give it a way to leave. I needed to do this while it was still daylight. From experience, opening the windows on a hot, humid summer night would probably just invite more flying things inside. The time was now.
One of my rational, fearless, involved-with-wildlife friends asked me what I imagined would happen if I went in there and encountered the bat. And I knew right away what that was. I was afraid of it getting tangled in my hair (and subsequently biting me…and needing to get rabies shots). I was afraid of The Ultimate Hair Tangle Nightmare.
My fearless wildlife-loving friend wasn’t having any of my hesitation. Just go in there and open the window, she said. Of course this friend is a wildlife rescuer in another state, who enjoys and has kept snakes, opossums, big spiders, and really loves alligators, so there is that. Two friends suggested I don a raincoat. I decided that would be my plan. But not any old raincoat would do. I dug out my old blaze orange Department of Transportation issued raincoat from when I was on a road crew many years ago, in the hope of channeling some of that long-gone bravado that was necessary on that job. I tucked all my potentially bat-trapping hair under a ski hat, put on a pair of gloves, grabbed a broom, and Bad-Ass Highway Girl entered the bedroom to open a window and free the Big-Ass Bat.
Inside the room there was no sign of the bat. Despite my protective gear, I guess I wasn’t all that bad-ass – I admit I didn’t hang out long enough to look around and see where it was hiding or wait for it to dive-bomb me. I quickly opened the window and ran out. Then I walked outside and stood on the front lawn so I could watch the open window and make sure that the bat would actually vacate the house. Numerous House Sparrows were swooping around the ivy, which reaches up to that window. I was wondering if I might lose a bat and gain a few birds in the bedroom during this operation.
Nothing seemed to be happening. I waited, staring intently at the open window, but the bat was not flinging itself to glorious freedom.
My neighbor K happened to be riding by on his bicycle, saw me standing there looking up and stopped to say hello and see what was going on. We got into a spirited discussion about bat encounters, now both of us looking up in anticipation of the Grand Exit. But suddenly I noticed something at the top left corner of the closed window that was next to the open one. It was the bat, which had situated itself upside down between the blinds and the glass. Apparently it wasn’t planning on going anywhere so soon.
K quickly texted his husband M, who apparently has No Fear and was eager to help. M showed up in minutes and immediately volunteered to go in and Remove the Bat. We had to urge him to please wear the gloves, put on the Bad-Ass Highway Department Raincoat and take the broom, as we really didn’t want him to risk being bitten. K grabbed a large towel and the two of them entered the room, with me standing behind them.
The bat was not happy about being asked to relocate. They carefully opened both windows, pulled the blinds away from the bat and tried to guide it towards towards the exit with the towel. It started chattering and clicking very loudly in protest. But they managed to scoop it out and it took off, as they quickly closed the windows should it decide to swoop back in. A happy ending for all….
It is so nice to have Wonderful Neighbors. I took a few funny pictures of My Heroes and they went along on their way. I do have to wonder how this one got into the house. There were no doors or windows left open, unless it somehow slipped in the door as we were coming and going. This house is old, but pretty tightly put together. I am finding myself looking around each room I enter, just in case there might be anymore where that one came from.
I know it’s unlikely, but I have to wonder – with a little bit of a shudder – if it might have come in attached to my hair…..