Monday, December 31, 2007

Nice Moment #1: "There's A Bat in the Bat House!"

On April 12, 2007, Ian and I put the long-overdue finishing touches on a construction project—a four-chambered, nursery-colony-size bat house. Getting that behemoth installed required at least three trips to the hardware store and as many attempts to locate a hammer drill. But it was finally mounted on the side of our brick house, thanks to many hours of sweating and relentless good-naturedness on the part of Ian, one of whose least favorite things is standing on a ladder. Once it was done, every pore in my body celebrated. Little did I know, my pores hadn't seen nuthin' yet.

On June 15, we were cleaning out our crawl space and Ian asked if I'd checked in the bat house lately. I said no, that I was wearing out the flashlight batteries peering up into it. A few minutes later I heard him exclaim, "There's a bat in the bat house!" I didn't believe him at first—it can take years for bats to find and approve of your lovingly crafted lodging. I thought Ian was teasing me. But sure enough, a single bat was dozing inside. I turned off the light quickly so as not to disturb it. Since it was near dusk, about 8 o'clock, we decided to sit back and wait for it to emerge. Emerge it did, and the next day we found it back inside. Unfortunately, it spent only 2 days, then moved on. But throughout the summer, we observed bats flying nearby, diving and zigzagging in their hunt for insect meals. During those times, when I sat on the stoop watching the show in the waning light, I often thought to myself: 'If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.'

Nice Moments of 2007

The inimitable Kurt Vonnegut, who died April 11 of this year at the age of 84, had this to say about recognizing and honoring life's sanguine moments:

"And now I want to tell you about my late Uncle Alex. He was my father’s kid brother, a childless graduate of Harvard who was an honest life insurance salesman in Indianapolis. He was well-read and wise. And his principal complaint about other human beings was that they so seldom noticed it when they were happy. So when we were drinking lemonade under an apple tree in the summer, say, and talking lazily about this and that, almost buzzing like honeybees, Uncle Alex would suddenly interrupt the agreeable blather to exclaim, 'If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.' I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, 'If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.' "

There were times in 2007 that I felt this way, most certainly not on the day KV died, but most certainly often. I want to be sure I'll remember them, so I'm writing them down.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Birding the Hard Way

I was test- driving the digital camera feature on the new spotting scope my hubby gave me for Christmas and needed a guaranteed bird in the hand, so to speak. We decided to train it on my mother-in-law's suet feeder, which was aflurry with nuthatch-titmouse-woodpecker activity, but, of course, it was too close to enjoy the 45x range of the scope. So we went to the deck of the new house they're building next door and set it up on a stepladder we hauled with us (gotta get that new tripod now....). We zoomed in on the feeder from 100 yards away. As soon as I had a target, I opened and closed the shutter multiple times using the handy-dandy snap line. I can sorta make out images captured on the viewfinder. If only I could get my computer to recognize the device, I might be able to see what they really look like. Or .... I could just sit a few feet away from a feeder and take photos with my Coolpix. Nah. That'd be too easy.