Bats in the Writer’s Belfry

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I have a three-season writing room. Four-season, if I light the wood stove and heat the place up. Finishing the roughed-in room over my husband’s workshop was one of the first projects I undertook when moving to the wilderness of Oregon.

Wilderness naturally entails a plentitude of wildlife, and my writing room has endured its share of feathered, winged, and furry visitors.

I love it when the hummingbirds fly in the window and hover over my head before zipping out again.

I didn’t even mind when the walls filled with wasps. The room vibrated with a soft hum while I sat peacefully among them and wrote. After two years of friendly buzzing around my head, they mysteriously moved out all on their own.

Then the bats moved in.

We are a bat-friendly household even though Nature Boy (aka the husband) has watched a few too many Dracula movies. He swears that “Batty” swoops at him as he runs the gauntlet from the door to the car every morning.

For two years, the bats and their buddies have been partying in my writing room, and it didn’t look like they intended to take a hint from the wasps and relocate any time soon. In fact, they were inviting their friends to take up residence. It was getting a little crowded, and though bat poop isn’t horrifyingly gross, it’s still gross.

So, a week ago, it was time for Batty and his buds to git.

The first task was to plug up their access to the room, which meant closing the gaps around the windows and doors, hauling the nail gun and compressor up there and securing the wooden slats on the ceiling. I knew where they were getting in because I could see the grubby mess left by their little hands and feet. Eeek.

Then I needed to find them. In US politics, you follow the money; when seeking bats, you follow the poop.

Photo by John Pearce via Flickr

I found two tiny fellows, no bigger than my thumb, hanging behind my picture frames.  I opened the door and windows, and fitted with gloves, nudged the little guys from their roosts. That probably wasn’t the best idea, because I found myself in a small room ducking and weaving as two bats flitted, swooped, and dove around my head.

The dummies had no idea where the windows and door were, and all three of us were in a bit of a panic. I considered running out of the room screaming, but I feared they’d simply find a new place to hide. And honestly, I’ve never been particularly scared of wild animals, so I stayed and encouraged them with a kind voice to scram!

Finally, Batty and his cousin flitted out the window and I slammed the thing shut quick!  After that, it was a matter of a deep clean, and my writing room is ready for the summer. It’s been a week and no new visitors… yet.

Bat Friendly Facts from the Oregon Dept. of Fish and Wildlife and me:

  • Oregon’s bats do not turn into vampires.
  • They eat only insects. An adult bat eats about 1,000 insects every hour!
  • Bats hang upside down because it gives them an ideal position for take-off.
  • Bats can fly 20 to 30 miles an hour and travel more than 100 miles a night.
  • A baby bat is called a pup because it’s so cute and furry.
  • Bats are not birds.
  • They’re the only flying mammal.

 

A Space to Write

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Spring has arrived in the mountains. It’s always a couple weeks later than down in the valley, and though the mornings are still frosty, the leaves have unfurled, and the dogwood wears its white petals. I’ve filled the hummingbird feeders and opened the windows to capture the afternoon sun.

And my writer’s room beckons.

In 1929, Virginia Woolf wrote that “a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.”

Well, that money thing would be convenient, wouldn’t it? Yet, it’s not a prerequisite for writing in my mind. Time strikes me as the rarer commodity.

But what about that room of her (or his) own, that “must” for the imagination to bloom?  A sacred space of quiet and solitude without the common daily distractions of television, movies, and videogames? A space where a writer can shut the door?

100_0983When I moved to the mountains, there was a half-finished room above my husband’s shop. I claimed it as my writing room and made it my own. Out went the spiders. I spackled and painted, installed a floor, tiled around the wood stove.

The walls are jewel tones, a change from the lovely but abundant wood in our log home. I stenciled falling leaves, hung dream catchers, and lugged in some well-loved furniture. The stairs are still rickety and the door doesn’t close well, but it’s peace, it’s immersion. The muse resides there, waiting expectantly for me.

100_0989I don’t use my writing haven in the winter, despite the wood stove. The windows aren’t tight, and a fire would require more effort than I’m willing to expend, especially since my writing day starts at 4 in the morning.

But once spring comes…

100_0991Today, I hustled out the new brood of spiders and cleaned up the bat poop from my nighttime freeloader. My walls will soon hum, as they’re loaded with bees. A bouquet of wildflowers and branches of cherry blossoms draws in the hummingbirds. They fly in the arched window, wings thrumming as they hover over my head.

Tomorrow, I’ll write.

Do you have a sacred space, a room, a closet, a special chair where you write? How have you made it yours?