As I slowly get to know my neighbors in the marina, I’m discovering that as colorful as the home renovation stories I’ve already shared about my place may be, there are some even more colorful ones my contractors–perhaps very prudently–decided not to share with me.
For example, I finally met my next-door neighbors, Rod and Jan, who only come to visit on the occasional weekends. Last summer, I wrote about the colony of bats that was discovered to be living under the siding of my house. The portion of the story I was told by my contractor, Kenny, was colorful enough by itself but, apparently I didn’t have the full story. Rod and Jan helped fill in a few more details about the discovery.
Apparently, my marina had become quite accustomed to seeing bats swooping between the houses in evening hours, skimming away bugs from the surface of the river like they were at an All-You-Can-Eat buffet. No one really knew where they hung out during the day. But they’d been fluttering around the marina for years, and marina residents had mentally placed them in the same category as other familiar evening callers such as our pair of herons, sea lion, and eagle. Until the day Gene and Kenny discovered the bats daylight digs, at any rate.
Turns out, the marina’s colony had been happily living under the siding of my house.
To refresh your memory, when I bought my house, the siding was in abysmal shape. It had been installed by someone who clearly didn’t know what they were doing. And the weather hadn’t been kind to it in the ten or so years since then. One of the projects I hired Kenny for was to replace my siding.
One day last summer, as Kenny’s assistant, Gene peeled off a strip of siding, out flew the marina’s colony of bats—more than a little bit perturbed to be rousted in the middle of a sunny Saturday afternoon.
The cloud of bats went shooting up into the sky. Gene toppled backward into the water. I had thought that was the end of the story. But it only gets better from there.
Here is the the continuation as told to me last weekend by my next-door neighbors, Rod and Jan…
Just prior to the Great Bat Discovery, Rod and Jan had been sitting on their front poor enjoying cool glasses of white wine. The front doors to their house were thrown open and their ceiling fan was on to draw in some of cool air off the water. (Most of the places like mine in the marina don’t have AC.) Their gangly, one-year-old German Shepherd was lazing in the doorway.
Just your typical lazy summer day on the river. (Or so they thought, at any rate.)
Jan had just gone inside to refill her glass. She remembers hearing Gene’s very un-Gene-like shriek, followed by a splash, and a soft curse from Kenny. The next thing she knows, the inside of her house is enveloped in a cloud of very indignant bats who’ve refused to stop for directions. They are not at all happy about being disturbed in the middle of their night and the house next door is the nearest dark, quiet place as far as they are concerned.
Quiet at any rate, until Jan starts screaming at the top of her lungs. Then the bats are not any happier to see Jan than Jan is the bats. They want out. But they’re no longer certain where out is.
Jan also wants nothing more than to get out of the front door of the house. But that isn’t as simple as it might sound, however, as the panicked cloud of bats are between her and her route of escape. Moreover, the ceiling fan blades have begun catching random member of the swarm and chucking them in her direction like a batting machine set to fast pitch.
And just as an added level of difficulty, the German Shepherd has decided to come to her rescue and is rapidly tearing apart the house in her attempts to snap at the bats.
Rod–moving with more speed and dexterity than he’s exhibited any time since his high school football days–wins major husband points for diving into the house, determinedly cutting through the swarm of upset bats, and successfully hauling Jan outside.
At the point where Jan is hopping up and down on her deck, shuddering, and frantically raking through her hair to ensure there aren’t any bats entangled, Kenny shows up. After fishing Gene out of the water, he has calmly ambled over and is quietly assessing the situation with his trademark lopsided smile.
Kenny’s first suggestion is to turn off the fan.
The second suggestion is to take the dog to the very confused neighbors’ porch and tie her up.
Suggestion three is to open the back door and garage door on the boat well to give the bats another, much quieter point of escape which doesn’t involve a blond woman still breaking into random fits of screams or a loudly barking German Shepherd who wants nothing more than to have them for lunch.
The majority of the swarm decide to take the hint and beat a hasty retreat out the back door.
Kenny and Rod then spend the next half hour or so encouraging the more befuddled and ceiling-fan-stunned refugees to follow the lead of their quicker-thinking counterparts. And then Jan spends a good part of the afternoon attempting to restore order to her home.
How I managed to not hear the second half of the story of the bats until last weekend, I have no idea. But now that word is out that I know, I keep running into other neighbors who are delighted to share their own anecdotes about the incident.
I suspect some degree of poetic license may be involved in the retelling at this point. But the descriptions I’ve received of the bat colony making their final exit from my and my neighbor’s home sounds like it was worthy of a scene from The Birds.
While I am in no way thrilled at the thought bats used to live under the siding of my house, I do feel a little guilty about evicting them without providing whatever the bat equivalent is to 30-day notice.
I hope they have managed to find comfortable new digs somewhere close by. (Just not too, close by, if you know what I mean.)