‘Bat dance’ and reflections at sundown

The temperature registers a mild 73-degrees, a welcome reprieve from the recent stifling heat. Upon washing dinner plates and gathering yard toys for the evening, the pleasant breeze keeps the mosquitoes at bay enough to lure me down to the farm pond dock for a quick respite before bedtime.

With a cold beer in hand, I settle into my chair just as the sun says goodbye to another day with a swan song of vibrant hues. A western watercolor canvas of pink, orange and yellow soon yields to the blue haze of a crescent moon beckoning overhead.

At this magical hour, the resident bats appear.

The first sighting comes in the water’s reflection — a quick skim of the surface and a hard counter left, narrowly clearing the tree line. A second bat buzzes the horizon. I marvel as the pair dips and sways, floating seamlessly across the sky in large circles, doubling back and diving sharply to scoop morsels in mid-flight.

Dancing their bat dance.

Perhaps 4 inches in length — no larger than the width of my hand — I figure these to be little brown bats, though I can’t say for sure. I know their numbers are greatly diminished as a result of the deadly disease that plagues them.

I reminisce about the days of my youth, when I gazed to the summer sky in awe as hundreds of bats performed their choreographed number above our family pond. It truly was a sight to behold, and it is still — despite far fewer dancers.

When I bought this property in 2013, I counted three bats doing their nightly rounds. Now there seems to be just two. As with anything, however, I recognize that time changes things. Numbers fade.

I watch for a long moment, drawing it all in, entranced by the show.

My mind drifts. I reflect on time’s impact on my own life, of loved ones who have passed, of new life coming into this world, and of the many blessings I’m fortunate to enjoy. While it’s difficult to overcome loss, the show must go on — and it does.

Breaking the water’s reflection as well as my own, a bullfrog’s moan reels me in from my thoughts. I down the remaining sip from my drink and recognize it’s time to say goodnight.

Before turning in, I long for a parting view of my evening company. The sky grows darker. Buying time, I walk slowly up the hill, forever scanning the heavens, yearning for one more glimpse.

Nearing the barn, I stop and give one last look. Never missing an encore, the bats clear the silhouetted treetops in tandem. They split and sway into the faintly backlit horizon, carrying on as they were in their beautiful nighttime ballet.

Categories: Pennsylvania – Tyler Frantz

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