The three tall, narrow windows that follow the slope of the ceiling up to the south loft make a dramatic view to the woods. Cedar siding leftover from the exterior covers the wall. One day a friend walked in and stared, seeing the sunlight slant through the windows. Cardinals were busy in the feeder. Binoculars and bird guides lay on the end table. “This is a sanctuary,” she said.
One afternoon, I sat alone looking out to the woods and noticed a dark knot-hole in the cedar. I don’t remember that knot being so large. I went to get the ladder.
Bats are common on Flesher Pond. As a little girl, I often ate supper in the screened-in porch with Grandma and Grandpa, and along toward dusk we watched the bats’ erratic flight through the yard as they ate up mosquitoes (see A Job Well Done).
I climbed the ladder, and saw it was a dead bat stuck fast to the wall. Complete rigor mortis. I climbed down to find the fireplace gloves, and climbed back up. I had to pry him off, the poor thing. Bats have come into the house before, but this one had gone unnoticed. Another time, I lugged the heavy wicker laundry basket down the porch steps and walked toward the clothesline. A mama bat with babies attached hung on the line. I quietly lugged the basket back inside.
In order to keep the mice down, we’ve had many cats over the years. Sam wrote about Yellow Cat and Mama Mouse:
“One sunny spring day I hauled the lawn mower out of the shed to get it ready for the mowing season. It wouldn’t start, so I took the cowl off the motor to see what needed to be fixed. A mouse jumped out with five babies hooked on, and scrambled across the grass, the babies falling off as she ran in a panic toward the trees. All this time I was supervised by our big yellow cat. He seldom had any comments or suggestions about the completion of my chores. Usually when I spoke to him, he just lifted his head and turned away in disdain. This time, he meowed and hopped from his perch on the back step. He quickly sought out each flailing little baby and ate each in one bite, eyes half closed in delight. Then he went after Mama Mouse who had scrambled up a hickory tree to hide under a piece of bark. Full from his course of hors d’oeuvres, he soon gave up the chase and strolled away.
That night I had a dream about chores and cats. In the dream, I re-lived taking the cowl off the mower, and the mouse and babies scattering in the grass. Yellow Cat came trotting across the back porch bringing one of our red-and-white checkered cloth napkins, as if he had jumped up from his table at a Paris café. He skipped over to each baby and slurped it up, dabbing the corners of his mouth after each little mouse bite. Then he took his napkin and sauntered away to resume his supervision of my chores. For once, I awoke from a dream laughing.”
Funny or brutal, it happened just as told. When I was a single mom intently trying to survive and keep life and limb together, had I been too keen on where I was headed to notice ways my children might be getting swallowed up one bite at a time (see Fox News)? We parents do our best and yet are unable to protect our children from all harm. Here is where I learned to trust a loving, Eternal Father. He never lets go of them.