Most of the time, having an expert birder for a husband is a really wonderful thing. I often say I am a birdwatcher by marriage, and after 15 years of living with Eric Masterson, even I can (sort of) identify the backyard birds that flock to our feeder. But Eric, author of Birdwatching in New Hampshire, knows the stories that come with them — whether the birds reside in NH year round, or if they’re just refueling on a migratory route spanning thousands of miles. One fall night, Eric said to me, “Tricia, come outside. You can hear the birds migrating.” Knowing his hearing is downright otherworldly, I said, “No, honey, YOU can hear the birds migrating.”
And then there are the times when having a birder for a husband is not such a good thing. Throughout our marriage, there have always been interesting items in our refrigerator/freezer. The ruffed grouse found injured roadside, who sadly died, but who rested amongst the frozen meats for months. The bucket of chum, used to attract sea birds, next to the edamame. And then there are the meal worms that frankly just gross me out.
Last week, Eric came home from his work in land conservation and like husbands everywhere, headed for the nearest flat surface — the dining room table — and dumped everything from his day. And like wives everywhere, I pleaded with him to pick things up. I reached for a casually deposited box and Eric shouted, “Don’t touch that! There are bats in there!”
Believe me, I did not touch the box. I have a thing about bats (previously discussed here).
Turns out that someone had been doing construction on their home and disturbed two hibernating bats. They had brought them into Eric’s work. Eric, known birding expert with an enormous heart, brought them home to winter with us. He put the box in our basement, hoping it would be cold enough for them to sleep the winter away. I asked him to please put them in the workshop (at least 200 feet from our house) the next morning and he agreed. I don’t want bats in my house, even if they are sleeping in a box.
Later that evening, Eric and I get in a fight (it happens) as harried married couples tend to do and suddenly, a bat flies by. I hit the ground so fast it would make your head spin. I scream, “Eric, a bat got loose!” I am deleting the expletives. Eric is annoyed with me to begin with — probably rightly so, although I can’t begin to remember what the fight was about — and disregards my concern. “Tricia, a bat is not loose,” he says, rolling his eyes as he talks. Once again, the bat flies by and I crawl on my hands and knees to the bathroom, terrified. “I’ll be in here until you catch it!” I am again deleting the expletives. I shut the door, cram towels above and below the door so no bat can sneak in, and draw myself a hot bath. Nothing like a bat flying inside your house to stop a fight dead in its track.
In the meantime, Eric doesn’t even break a sweat. I can hear him calmly walking back and forth, assessing the situation. It seems the earlier disruption and the warmish basement was enough to wake the bats from their hibernation. Finding themselves in a box, they promptly chewed their way out (who can blame them?), and set flight in our home, looking for an escape, which of course would have been their death — there are no insects to eat when it’s 15 degrees. Knowing they needed to conserve their precious energy if they had any hope of surviving, my now heroic husband captured both the bats with tupperware containers, and released them into our very cold attic. Hopefully they went back to sleep until spring, when they will wake up in our attic, and I will no doubt be locked in the bathroom again.
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