My son loves to read, especially about animals. Last night he was reading a book about bats, one of those slender children’s nature books heavy on pictures. The window was open and it was twilight. “You want to see a bat?” I asked. He was engrossed, didn’t answer. I tugged on the book. “Do you want to see some bats?”
“Let’s see some real bats.”
“Okay...” he said, as if it were a dubious suggestion. I turned out the room light and switched off the computer monitors. The window was open because of the heat. I placed one of my most prized possessions on the window sill – my bat detector.
Bat detector? Well, strictly speaking it’s an ultrasound detector, but I bought it from Bat Conservation International, so it’s obviously meant to detect bats. It’s about the size of a hand-held GPS, which is why once, during a hastily organized trip up the valley and lost on some logging road, when I was asked to check where we were on my GPS , I reached into my pack and said, “Oh. I’m not sure I can do that. But at least we’ll know if there are any bats.”
The bat detector was on the window sill for no more than 20 seconds before the quiet static suddenly went, “tic tic tic ticticticticTICTICTICTICTICTIC!” We looked out, over the neighbour’s roofline. A bat skittered across the sky. More static, then again, “tic tic tic ticticticticTICTICTICTICTICTIC!” A bat seemed to fly right at our open window, then, as if yanked by a string, shot up over our heads, above our house.
We took the bat detector outside, into the back yard. “tic tic tic ticticticticTICTICTICTICTICTIC!” Strafed by one more, a few feet above our Japanese maple.
And then, nothing but quiet static. We waited a few minutes. I saw that my son was still holding his bat book, and had started reading again, straining his eyes in the thin light leaking through the downstairs blinds.
“You want to go inside and finish your book?”
“Okay,” he said. He enjoyed seeing the bats, but he really loves to read.