Crazy Chicken Annie doesn’t have any chickens anymore- but there are plans to fix that travesty once everyone is settled more substantially in Ohio. Walking into her new-old house though, is just like walking home. Despite the fact that the set is different, the heart and soul of who Annie is and what she provides has never changed. Instead of a California mid-century, the digs might now be a 110 year old barn house, and the ceilings might be 12 feet and made of lath and plaster, but it feels exactly the same when you walk through her door.
Harry the dog greets you with sniffs and a wagging butt, Jesse squawks at you from her regal perch in the parlor, and bowls of fish and plants spill from every surface. The picture of the sea otter is still over the mantle, where it’s been in every house she’s lived. Books are stacked floor to ceiling, bits of sea glass from Big Sur and pine-cones from Yosemite fill jars, and sunlight casts rainbows through prisms in the wide, open windows. The front porch is peppered in comfy chairs and dripping with plants and flowers, and the front door is always open- and I do mean wide open. Neighbors are welcomed, friends pop by, and life overflows.
The night of Heather’s wedding was incredibly hot and humid, and when we arrived back at the barn house in the wee small hours, Harry was chomping at the bit for a walk, which Annie happily obliged and meandered down the street. Tired but still happy from the spectacular wedding and after-party, I was covered in bug-spray and drenched in humidity; an exhausted shower before falling into bed seemed more than worth the effort.
As I was stepping from the cool shower, I reached for one of the creamy organic towels (because would Annie have any other kind? nope) on the hook. Tucking the towel around me, I reached for a second to wrap my hair up, but a flurry of flittering and blur of wings caused me to jump back with a pounding heart and shaking hands. What was that? At first I thought it was a bird- a sparrow or some other songbird who had meandered into the house through the open door policy. It wouldn’t be the first time.
Peeking my head from the creaky annexed bathroom door, I called out “Annie? Annie?! Are you back? Do you have a sparrow or another bird that lives here?” I tucked the towel tighter around me and padded in my barefeet, legs dripping beads of water in my wake, through the dining room, the front parlor and into the entry hall. I peered around cautiously- the door was flung open, perhaps the bird had flown out? It was pitch black outside, and the house was dimmly lit; it was hard to see as I squinted at the ceilings and windows.
Hmmm… I thought perhaps I was imagining the whole thing, and turned to tiptoe back to the bathroom in search of my jammies. A flutter to my left caused me to whip my head around, and thin leathery wings brushed the side of my head as I ducked and landed on my bed. I may have shrieked the tiniest bit. But it was a quiet shriek if it happened at all. HOLY CRAP IT”S A BAT!!
Heart pounding now, I sat up, tucked the towel back in again, and looked around. Where did it go? Oh man… a bat. Do bats have rabies? Crap. I don’t see it anywhere. “Annie?” I call again, hoping she and Harry are back. “Annie? Do you.. um… do you have a pet bat?” It sounds absurd, but I honestly thought it was a legitimate question at 2 am- she’s had other pets people don’t usually consider pets, and I didn’t want to go chasing a a bat around if he were a friendly.
I was standing back in the front hallway when Harry bounded up the steps, all blond hair and pink tongue, happy to have his people back. Annie followed closely, leash in hand, still in her mother-of-the-bride dress, hair still done from the wedding. “I think there is a bat, and I think he flew upstairs, but I’m not sure.”
“A bat? Hmm. Okay.” I love Annie. A bat? No problem. No big deal. Hi, bat. Let’s find you and get you out of here where you will be happier… Annie and I both head upstairs. Yep, there he is. A little bat, brown, furry, leathery wings that somehow bend backwards and evoke horror movies and primal recoil. Hanging from the linen curtains in her room. We turn out the lights. Yes, because we were thinking clearly at 2 am, turning out the light to catch a bat seemed bright. I know…
For the next hour, we chased the bat from room to room, attempting to throw towels and sheets over him, and otherwise assure him we meant him no harm, but he really did have to get his little scary self back outside where he belonged. We tried to chase him out windows, open doors , and finally, in the closet in Annie’s room, we caught him under a woven basket.
Two things: Bats smell bad, and they made very strange shrieking noises when captured under woven baskets by two crazy ladies in the middle of the night.
Ever so carefully, we carried the basket downstairs, out the front door, and released our little intruder into the inky black night. He was happy, I hope, and we were relieved. We looked at each other, suddenly exhausted as the adrenaline of the hunt left us, and we trudged back up the front steps and into the thick heat of the house. With a deep sigh, Annie closed and locked the front door with a solid click.