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  • Kerry D. Krauss

Die Fledermaus

Many cultures consider bats bad omens. Their nighttime journeys forebode death, chaos, and mayhem. Northern Europeans lumped them together with witches and spiders to add an evil element to Halloween. Bram Stoker struck Hollywood gold when he wrote vampire bats into his Dracula story (there are no vampire bats in central Europe. In fact, there are only three species of serious vampire bats, and they all live in Mexico and South America).

I saw a lonely bat flitter through the evening sky last night and that made me think of a few bat stories (which I keep in my bat-journal and write with my bat-pen)(and that joke only means anything if you watched the campy Batman reruns growing up).

A sizable bat colony had nested in the attic of the house we lived in on Furnace Street. The house fringed the woods. We sat one night and counted bats as they launched from the peaked dormer. I don’t remember the exact number, but it was over 50. The owner of the house arranged to have an exterminator come. They poisoned the whole colony. We had dead and dying bats everywhere for several days. It was unfortunate. They seemed like meek, likeable creatures.

Bats freak some people out. Much like spiders freak me out and snakes freak other people out. These meek, likeable creatures are more complex than we give them credit. First, they can snag a moving insect in midair in the dark. I struggle to hit a moving insect with a fly swatter and I have opposable thumbs. Bats roost in the same spot generation after generation. Bats are communal by nature. They live together. Migrate together. In some instances, female bats create special maternity colonies in which they bear their young and then stay together while the nursing baby bats grow and mature.

Here’s the really special thing about bats: they know where their home is. They leave their roost every night. They hunt woods, swamps, country roads, and city streets. They come back to their roost every night. Migratory bats roost in their colony and then travel to their winter quarters and then return to the same roost year after year after year. I find that fascinating.

Home is a special place…or a special concept. Some of you have lived around the same home, the same house, the same community your whole lives. Some of you, like me, have wandered and create a new sense of home even when the houses and zip codes change.

I wonder if we know instinctively where home is. I’m sure most of us could find our house on a map. But do we know where HOME is? Can we identify what and where and who soothes our soul and satisfies the longing we have for home?

Home, for me, is pizza on a Friday night—and not dinner, but an after-dinner treat, preferably with pepperoni.

Home, for me, is the Lehigh Valley. So much has changed in the 18 years since we left, but so much of the familiarity calls me home.

Home, for me, is Karen and the boys—and wherever we are together. Brian. Tina and Chris. Mom & Kevin and his family. Pat Z. sitting in the choir room at Edgeboro. Gary and Susie in Hope. Brian and Tracey. John and Angie. I am blessed to have so much family covering so much territory.

This season of COVID has disoriented me. Up is down. Left is right. Black and white are at war. Whatever centered me before hides and waits for another day. I am reoriented by my sense of home. I can face tomorrow because tomorrow is Friday and that means it’s pizza night and that means I’m home.

I love you.

I need you.

I hope for you.

Please be safe.

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