We’ve been receiving our happy new year wishes from the Greenes and the Torreys on the East Coast. Covid stole our turn at the Manse and time with la familia, so it’s been a long while since we’ve been there.
I woke up one morning this week remembering our scary “bat night” in our room at the Manse. Que? This story should have been posted in October, verdad? It Sounds more dramatic in spanish, La noche del murciélago en mi cuarto…bah ha ha ha.
The Big Old House
It takes a couple of days to get reacquainted with the New England time zone, moist weather and the very welcoming mosquitoes.
Acuerdense, the Manse, the family estate is very old and creaky. Most everyone enters through the kitchen, it’s the comfortable entrance, the foyer entry is for the dignitaries :D. The largeness of the Manse intimidates us so we all quietly enter, and the house receives us noisily. The screen door slams, the wood floors sound hollow, and creak with our weight. The house speaks in “loud quiet” tones.
The kids explore and go through the downstairs rooms. The long dining room, the reading room with Mary Minot watching us above the fireplace, and the music room, where they linger. The closet holds old fashion toys, and board games. They all go upstairs together, creaking all the way. The boys always shared one room that way they would take care of each other. Their sister Daniella was left to fend for herself.
The days in Jaffrey are free and uncluttered! Screen time is banned and good old fashion outdoor time is enforced :D. It was hard for them to keep busy, honestly I think that with so much greenery and big trees, maybe they thought they were in the bosque and a bear would come out of the woods to eat them! but they managed to survive swinging high on the barn swing. Imaginate, a typical summer day was swimming in the lake, at Thorndike Club, I sound so muy muy verdad, it’s not. It’s good old fashion outdoor summer fun. It’s one of the benefits the family enjoys as the warm humid mosquitos filled days pass by.
One evening after one of those busy days and I had cleaned up after dinner I was going to relax upstairs,solita. I rarely went up alone, porque I did not like Labans eyes looking at me, well actually all of Ben’s ancestors followed me around with their eyes.
Sin embargo, I was determined to have my nice long chat con mi amiga. In Jaffrey, I had time for the simple things, so neither the eyes nor the creaks were going to rob me of this pleasure.
Bien agusto, we were chatting, interrupting one another and laughing all the way, when all of a sudden, I saw something fly across the room, I screamed for Ben. He came leaping up those stairs! Mi Principe Azul I was crouching on the bed waiting for him.
It’s A Bird…
What happened? He said as he looked at me and around, he thought I had seen a mouse. Un raton! Hijole, I couldn’t worry about that just then.
“I saw something up there” I pointed to the ceiling?
“Where?” He looked around everywhere.
“Maybe it’s nothing” Nada? No estoy loca.
“I looked everywhere already, don’t worry about it” He turned to go back downstairs.
Maybe he was right. I picked up the phone again, mi amiga was waiting. I was laughing nervously, telling her that I thought I had seen something fly by. Then it flew by and I screamed again.
“Ben!” He was already there
“I think there’s a bird is up here”
“A bird? Where? He looked around
“It flew to the Nursery” I pointed to the room that was connected right to ours. Ben looked around,
“There’s nothing here, besides IF there was a bird it’s gone now.”
“He’s somewhere Ben, what if he plucks out my eye?”
“Come on, a bird won’t hurt you.”.
But he lingered a good while, we silently waited for the bird to fly out again. That was done, with no bird in sight he turned and went back down stairs.
I picked up the phone again telling my comadre about the haunted Manse and the mysterious bird. Derrepente! the flapping of his wings swooped over me! Yelling and whooping is all that could be heard in the upstairs bedroom and hallway. The bird was probably more scared than I. This time the whole family came running up the stairs and the bird slipped away again.
“It’s here Ben!”
“I know, I saw something, but where did it go?
“He flew into the Cannonball room” (I believe that it’s dramatically called the Cannon Ball room because at the top of each bedpost sits a “cannon” ball)
We all ran to that room, then I asked Daniella to take the boys out. I didn’t want them to get hurt. Quien sabe, maybe he would snatch them up, I mean the bird was growing bigger by the second. Besides, life must go on and the boys needed their bath so Daniella was assigned to “little brother” watch, while Jonathan, my quickly growing strong teenager and I helped dad with capturing this dangerous bird.
Ben had looked everywhere in the room while Jonathan and I lingered in the doorway. Nada, no bird to be seen. Then, Ben had an idea. He switched off the lamps in the room, hijole it was dark. He saw something and I screamed, I think Jonathan did too and we huddled in the doorway where there was still some light.
Then Ben said,
“Come in and close the door.” We trembled, I wanted to protest, and it looked like Jonathan was hoping I would. We stepped in and closed the door to the light and to Daniella and the boys down the short hallway. Ben pointed to the huge antique mirror with gold chipped crown molding, confirming his suspicion. Perched on top was the bird with bulging glowing yellow eyes.
We muffled our fear, El Cucuy was in those eyes. I thought of my little ones outside, what would happen to them? Ben switched the lights back on and said
Bats were for the movies and scary cartoons, not the Manse. Jonathan and I were frozen. Y ahora? I thought we should go next door down and across the street to his brother’s house and escape. Pero, Ben said he had another idea for getting rid of the bat. All we needed was the kitchen broom, the sheet on the bed and the empty trash can. One, two, three and the bat would be trapped. Here was the plan:
- Ben would swat the the bat off his perch with the broom
- Jonathan and I would throw the sheet over the bat as he swooshed off the mirror
- Then Ben would trap it with the small trash can
Bien facil verdad? So his team was ready, shaking in our boots we held the sheet high above our heads. Ben held the broom in one hand and the trash can in the other. A la Una, a las dos y a las tres. Swat, swoosh, yelp! and thud. That’s how fast we captured the big bad bat!.
Let me show you in slo-mo
- Ben reached up for the bat and gently swung, that antique mirror had to be protected too.
- When the bat swooshed off his perch and circled the ceiling Jonathan and I yelled and threw the sheet…over our heads.
- Ben managed to swat again and somehow he brought it low enough to cover it with the trash can. Acuerdense, me and Jonathan were under the sheet. We could only hear the scuffle between Ben and bat. When we pulled the sheet off the bat was trapped. Whew! That was easy.
With just a bit more maneuvering Ben slid a dustpan over the opening of the can and walked down stairs and outdoors to release the bat into the night. Por supuesto que that bat would come back, we only hoped he would wait til we were gone.
As soon as that was done the house phone rang and his brother Sam heard all our commotion and was wondering what all the ruckus was about. We all have our version of the bat story. Even as I wrote it, I laughed at how terrified we were. I mean, I had heard about those vampire bats, thank God that that real live bat preferred to eat mosquitoes.