She should hate bats.
Actually, she should go berserk, like a crazed Norseman of yore, whenever one of those dark-winged drones flaps by her ear at that time when the nocturnal awake–dusk.
She should go crazy because of a past experience that left its mark.
While riding in a school bus packed with the Washington High School’s boys’ varsity swim team, accompanied by its coaches and one awkward freshman girl<moi>, someone passed a wadded-up towel up to the front of the bus, its destination aimed at that naive person who stupidly opened said towel, only to be met with the gross and (at the time) terrifying body of a dead bat, fully spread-out–wings and all, staring back at her with dead eyes and what appeared to be a tangle of ligaments.
Looking back, she realizes those ligaments were the wings.
The scream which emanated from her soul that day electrified the varsity boys, so much so that during the swim meet, many shaved seconds off their times in the 50 freestyle. Thoroughly humiliated, but never one to shirk her responsibilities, that day she timed their races dutifully, holding a silver stopwatch up and punching it with aplomb at the beginning and ending of each race.
But deep in her psyche, the image of that dead bat found a dark place to lodge so that for years when dusk approached, when the swallows put up for the night and ceded the sky to their winged counterparts, she retreated inside the house, sure that a bat would get tangled in her hair.
Boating on lakes at dusk or riding her Missouri Foxtrotter, Cricket, back from a glorious evening trail ride, always, her own interior radar pinged, hoping not to intersect with a bat.
She has lived on the Rancho for twenty years, carving out from an overgrown oak forest and weed-filled meadow, a tame environment. Gone are the wild boar who rooted her lawn and deer who nibbled her roses. Now that her home is fully fenced, the mountain lions stay far away and the bobcats only occasionally trot across the road at dawn. Skunks, raccoons, opossums, and foxes come to the little creek to drink at night.
To her feathered friends ( owls, finches, hummingbirds, bluebirds, red-tailed hawks, and doves) and enemies (wild turkeys), the fences mean nothing. And then there are the bats.
They live here. So does she. They eat mosquitoes and other bugs.
Last year, she had a change of heart when while opening up her patio umbrella for the spring.
She cranked the handle clockwise. Silver spokes began to unfurl upward and outward.
The green canvas spread open.
Suddenly, one sleepy little bat, dropped like a stone onto the patio table shaded by the umbrella. Disoriented, he turned on his radar, donned his sunglasses, and fluttered off, into a dark oak tree.
And her heart changed.