[WARNING: The subject matter of this post may not be suitable for general readers. If you are offended by such words as “droppings” or “do-do”, then please move on to another, more appropriate blog about late summer recipes or crocheting cat napping pillows.]
On the afternoon of August 6, 2015, I was sitting quietly in my Adirondack Chair on our back deck. Beside me, on the little table where we burn our citronella candles, was my new Exterminator. At first glance, it appears to be a small tennis racket and that’s the point. It’s not supposed to look like an Exterminator. Inside the handle are two batteries. When a black fly or other biting and sucking insect approaches my arm, I pick up the “tennis racket” and zap the bug with 500 volts of electricity. How one can get 500 volts from two D cell batteries is something that is very hard to explain. It’s too technical for the lay-person to understand, so I won’t go into it. Let’s just say it has to do with electrons and leave it at that.
But, I digress.
I was deeply engrossed in Immanuel Kant’s Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics, a riveting work of suspense, gratuitous sex, violence and Epistemology. I was nearing the end and, let me say, it’s a real page-turner. I won’t be a spoiler, but I expected the end to have a proper climax to the narrative arc complete with fading action and resolution. I was not disappointed. As I was nearing the final fifty or so pages, I suddenly felt that I was being microwaved. I blinked and I raised my eyes to the small patch of sky that is visible from our deck.
The sun was out!
I hate the feeling of Ultraviolet radiation on my skin so I called Mariam to come out and help me. She promptly pulled apart a velcro band and raised our umbrella. I pulled my chair into the shade and continued reading–after thanking her, of course.
A few minutes later, Mariam comes out to the deck and settles into her Kindle book. It was a picture of domestic bliss. Here were two middle-aged people sitting side-by-side, each engaged in our own little world of reading and thinking. I closed my eyes for a few moments to reflect on what I had just read, and I began to drift into an August Adirondack daydream.
That’s when I heard the movement. It seemed to be coming from the umbrella. I slowly raised one eye lid, fully expecting to see a squirrel playfully scampering around on the green canvas. How wrong I was. I opened the other eye lid and looked up into the inside peak of the umbrella.
I slowly went into the house to get my Zeiss Wild Bird Spotter Scope and tripod. I focused the monocular at the inside peak.
There it was. It stared back at me with the red eyes of Satan himself. The pointed ears, the claw-like feet and the leather-like wings filled my field-of-view. I was looking, eye to eye, at a bat.
I crossed myself and hurried to the kitchen to retrieve a clove of garlic. This was surely a Vampire Bat of legend, making its yearly migration from Ohio to the heart of the Transylvanian Alps in Romania. I was taking no chances. I got more cloves for Mariam. She reminded me that we needed a salad for dinner that night. I asked about radishes and she said she could pass.
She looked at the cloves of garlic I had strung around her neck. I told her that they would protect her from the loathsome Vampire Bat of legend that was living in our green umbrella.
She looked up and saw a foot and a pointed ear partly hidden by a fold in the canvas.
“Honey,” she said, “that’s a Small Brown Bat that is native to this part of the country. It’s an Eptesicus fuscus. The wingspan is only about eight inches or so. It’s related to the Big Brown Bat. I’m glad we have him. They were nearly killed off a few years ago with a strange disease. Now they seem to be coming back.”
I looked back at the bat. It’s didn’t seem so large to me this time.
That’s when I noticed them!
“Look”, I said, “droppings.”
My mind raced through memories of stories of how spelunkers sometimes come down with serious respiratory illnesses after entering a cave filled with guano, or bat droppings. I asked Mariam where our surgical masks were stored.
“There’s only two or three tiny pieces,” she said, “I don’t think we have to worry.”
As I stared at the tiny pieces of guano, I began to think of the Civil War. I began to make serious connections with what was on our deck and the fortunes that were made during the War by entrepreneurs who collected, processed and refined guano into gun powder. I thought of all the hunters in the Adirondacks and I realized that there were quite a few. A fair number of them, as well as new age frontiersmen and survivalist, still used flintlocks or muskets for hunting. It didn’t take me long to see that we were sitting beneath a gold mine. All we needed to do was collect the guano and sell it to gun powder manufacturers. We’d need a few more deck umbrellas, I knew, but it would be worth it. Soon, we’d be rolling in guano money and thinking of buying a certain condo I had in mind in Labrador.
I quickly explained my plan to Mariam, knowing she’d be on board when I made it clear to her that there was money in those little black specks on our deck.
She just stared at me for a few minutes and went back to her Kindle.
Me? I went downstairs and brought back a quart-sized Bell jar that I had used for storing my homemade pickles. I carefully scraped together the few black grains of what I saw as gold, black gold, that is.
This is how fortunes are made, by far-sighted guys like me.
I went back to Kant, comfortable in the fact that my mail would be forwarded to Labrador within the next ten years, or so.
[WARNING: The image below may not be considered appropriate for general viewing. Discretion is advised!]
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