Mercy the bat learns to fly
Mercy the bat was eight weeks old. Since she was born, her mother had given her good sweet milk. She lived in a cave with so many other bats that she would never be able to count them all. It was cool and dim in the cave during the day. Mercy slept then, snuggled up against her Mama, drinking when she was thirsty, touching her Mama’s soft fur. At night, it was very, very dark. The bats woke up then. Mercy loved to hear flying all around her and feel the breeze created by their wings. She didn’t like it, though, when her Mama left, even though she promised she would be right back as soon as she got something to eat. She always did come right back, but Mercy still didn’t like it.
But tonight was going to be different. Tonight she was going to fly out of the cave for the first time. And even better, her friend Maurice was coming, too, with his Mom. She and Maurice had huddled together all those nights when their Mamas went out to eat. They were the best of friends. That made Mercy feel better. She was excited to leave the cave, but she was a little nervous, too.
Mama told her that they would wait until the other bats left, so they wouldn’t get separated. Mercy had watched the bats fly out in a huge cloud. She couldn’t imagine being part of that. She had practiced flying a little the past few nights after the other bats left the cave. It was an amazing feeling to ride on the air, to hear the walls and her friend Maurice, although they had bumped into each other a couple of times.
“Remember to stay where you can hear me,” Mama said.
“Yes, mama,” said Mercy.
“Yes, mama,” said Maurice.
And out they went into the world.
Outside was very big and it was much lighter than inside.
“The moon is full and the night is clear,” Mama said. “I want you to look and listen. And stay close.”
Mama bat spotted a broken dragonfruit on the ground. It smelled good. They all flew down. Mercy and Maurice watched their Mamas nibble delicately on the fruit.
“Try it,” Mama said. “It’s sweet.”
Mercy landed on the edge of the fruit and fell right on her face into the fruit. She licked the juice on her face. It tasted very good. She laughed and licked some more, then Maurice ate a little chunk off the top of her head and they laughed some more. Soon they got the hang of eating the fruit.
“Don’t eat too much,” Mama warned. “Or you’ll get a tummy ache. Besides, there are other fruits for you to taste tonight.”
Mercy and Maurice followed their Mamas into the night. They tasted bananas and watermelon. It was all delicious.
They flew high into the sky. Mercy wondered if they would reach the moon. She couldn’t smell it, but it looked like it might taste good. “I wonder what the moon tastes like. I think it’s not always in season,” she whispered to Maurice. She had listened when the other bats talked about what fruits were in season, although she wasn’t sure exactly what it meant. Maurice didn’t answer, but he flew higher still. Mercy and Maurice flew high up into the sky. They didn’t hear their Mamas calling them to come back.
Strangely, no matter how high they flew, they never seemed to get any closer to the delicious looking moon. In fact, the moon seemed to be moving away from them. It was moving toward the edge of the earth.
Suddenly, Mercy realized she was very tired. Her wings didn’t want to move anymore.
“Maurice,” she said, “Where are our Mamas? I want to go home now.”
Her wings were moving slower now and she was sinking toward the earth. Maurice stayed close. “I’ll take care of you,” he said, but Mercy thought he looked as tired as she was. The earth was still far below. Mercy was falling.
“Mama,” she yelled as loudly as she could. Then a dark shadow covered the moon and Mercy saw large wings rising and falling around her.
“Hold on, Mercy,” Mama said. Mercy held on tight. Maurice did, too.
“It’s time to go home now, my little one,” Mama sang in her beautiful voice.
But Mercy didn’t even hear her, because she was already fast asleep.
Last week, I went to see Volcan Masaya, one of the live volcanoes near where I am staying in Nicaragua. We went at sunset and it was incredibly beautiful.
One of the things we saw was a cave filled with bats–thousands of them. If you’re lucky, you can see them fly out at dusk. At the beginning of the trail, we were given orange plastic hard hats and a flashlight by the park rangers. The path was short, but filled with largish rocks and tree roots–I was very happy to have the flashlight! When we got to the mouth of the cave, we sat in front and turned off our lights. The light is confusing to the bats. Richard, our guide, turned his flashlight on and off quickly so we got a glimpse inside the cave. I saw countless bats wheeling around in there. We didn’t see a grand exodus, but some of the bats flew right by us. The sound of their wings and the breeze that brushed my face as they flew by was enchanting.
There are also a couple of bats that fly through the dining room at La Mariposa at dusk. They are most graceful as they fly back and forth (too quickly for me to get a photo) But I was intrigued, so I did a little research. I already knew that most bats are very beneficial, eating either fruit or insects, but I also learned that bat mothers take very good care of their young, carrying them with them when they fly when they are very little and leaving them alone when they are too big but not yet ready to fly. That is what inspired this story. The bats here are very dark in color, but they come in many different colors and I took some liberties so they would show up a little better in the painting.
I also thought that Halloween is a good time for a bat story. I was wondering why bats are associated with Halloween. I didn’t do a lot of research, but here is one explanation:
Bats have long been associated with Halloween but the connection is by far less ominous than some would suspect. In Halloween’s ancient origins people would gather together around giant bonfires to ward off evil spirits. Attracted to the warmth and bright light of these fires were many small flying insects. Natural food for hungry bats. People saw the bats flickering in and out of the firelight during the festivals and they became a feature of Halloween lore.
The link between the bat and Halloween became strengthened with the discovery of the Vampire Bat in the 17th century. Tales of bats that drank blood had circulated throughout Europe for centuries before but it wasn’t till the Spanish exploration of Central and South America that there was physical proof. It was a natural association for a dark holiday, a creature that lapse the life blood of it’s prey in the dark of night.
(Taken from hauntedbay.com)
Anyhow, that’s all for now. And this will be my last story from La Mariposa. Saturday I leave for Isla Ometepe and a new adventure!
All the best and thanks for stopping by!