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."
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!|
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.....