I confess that all my walks have not been as stately as they may sound. At least one this summer turned into a flat-out sprint when I sensed a flock of bats emerging from their daylight lounges in the trees along the banks of Flat Rock Creek. I was chatting with my daughter, who accompanies me on some of my walks, when I heard the flapping of wings. I glanced upward and saw winged creatures without the pronounced and distinctive silhouette of a bird head hovering at the treetops. I turned to my daughter who enjoys any track opportunity and nonchalantly and quite uncharacteristically suggested, “Let’s run!”
I pulled my arms up and bolted down the remaining stretch of asphalt path that follows the creek and pounded across the wooden footbridge, my hips nearly airborn as several bats flew up from either side of the metal bridge railing. My daughter had innocently accepted my invitation and her lithe body flew past me at the other side of the bridge. We rounded the sidewalk and she began giggling at the sight of me running. Understandable reaction.
Just then she caught sight of our real reason for running. Bats circled above the open field abutting the tree line, which was now just coming to life with fireflies. Her eyes widened and she looked at me with some modicum of fear tempered by the hilarity of realizing we were running with the bats. We both started laughing hysterically and running as fast as we could through the neighborhood with our eyes turned ever skyward. We blew past dog-walkers and young families who mosied on without our knowledge of the imminent danger and possible fate that awaited them just behind us.
We spilled into the house as darkness settled in, reporting our journey to my husband who, impervious to our breathless collapse, noted that bats are far more interested in the insects they find at 30 feet up than in us. Oh, to be able to believe that and walk in nature without fear, to set aside centuries of myth and ignore the childhood ghost stories we told each other on summer nights such as these in Edgevale. Needless to say, my walking time inched ever earlier across the rest of the summer in accordance with the shifting time of sunset.