Wednesday, January 20, 2016

A Befuddled Day

One of the things I most enjoy about living here is the juxtaposition of the familiar and the strange. Driving in the countryside here, with its lakes and gentle hills, you could imagine that you were simply driving in a part of the South Island that you hadn't visited before - and then you turn a corner and there's a big red American barn, or a grain silo with "God Bless America" stencilled on it, or a road sign saying "Caution Moose Xing."
 It's the same with conversations: I was excited to hear that Sharon had also taken up beekeeping and we were settling into a discussion of how to set up a hive and then she says "but I had to give it up because a bear got into the honey and smashed up all the frames." In politics, even those who share most New Zealanders' views on social welfare, gun control, health care etc hold those views more defensively (well, they have to).

I hadn't realised, though, how different attitudes can start to influence your own thinking. Last night at 4am, I heard someone walk into our room. I sighed - Lizzy must have had a nightmare, and I waited for the small voice by my ear saying "Mummm." It didn't come. More movement. I sat bolt upright. No-one could be seen. Then I heard the noise again, and this time I knew for sure it was coming from the wardrobe. Someone was in the closet. Suddenly all the conversations I'd had with people about guns and self-defence came flooding back, and ....I really can't quite believe I'm writing this....for a split second I thought "This is America. He could be armed. They were right after all: I need a gun!"  What, in that moment of sleep-fuddled insanity, I thought I was going to do with a gun - given that I've never even held one before - I don't know. But there you go.

Anyway, I got over myself and switched on the light by the wardrobe. There was nothing on the wooden floor but a crumpled leaf. I got back into bed. More noise. So, I got up again and looked more closely at the crumpled leaf - and saw teeth. It was a little brown bat.

I hasten to add that I did not get this close!
I've never seen a bat before. I was so excited - and adding that excitement to the emotions and thoughts already ricocheting around in my head (looking forward to being home, sadness at leaving here, endless to-do lists...) meant there was no more sleep for me.

As the girls ate breakfast, I told them all about it. Lizzy was horrified: "They have TEETH!!" she said, "Stop freaking me out!" Bruce came down, rubbing the sleep out of his eyes....but also rubbing the side of his neck. "Something bit me in the night," he said sleepily. We looked at him dubiously. "Really," he said, "look here...." and leaned over Lizzy to show her two little red marks on his neck. There was a second's pause and then we all started yelling at him.

He's been grinning to himself all morning as we've been working our way through the lists and tasks. As the day has gone on, I've been in a state of increasing befuddlement on account of my lack of sleep. I've been taking regular walks by the lake in -11C (feels like -18, my weather app tells me helpfully) as a way of blasting some clarity into my mind. There is still much to do. But what I'm wondering now is - I've looked in the wardrobe and that bat is nowhere to be seen. Where is it??  I think I shall not let Lizzy know that it's disappeared.....


  1. You should have insisted Bruce go to the hospital for his (painful) rabies shots ;-)
    Lizzy's reaction surprises me, too. Chipmunks have teeth. Squirrels have teeth. Those cute little possums living under the house have teeth. I suppose she can still enjoy the chickadees and other birds, though ;-)

  2. Ha! He would have deserved it!

    I think Lizzy has looked at too many bat pictures like the ones above. Chipmunks and squirrels don't really BARE their teeth in the same way!