July has two new moons, one on July 1st, the other today. I’ve been looking, but have not found a term for this. I would have thought the term “blue moon” would apply to two new moons in a month as it does to two full moons, but apparently that’s not so. At any rate, if you’re reading Mary Oliver’s Twelve Moons as a lunar calendar with me this year, it’s time to read another poem. Today’s poem is Bats.
The allusions in this poem ought to please the vampire fans among readers, but it does little for the bat’s reputation. I love bats, and I love that some varieties of bats are native to Alaska.
We have 5 or 6 varieties of bats in Alaska. According to information from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, all but the most common, the little brown bat, live in Southeast Alaska. The little brown also ranges into our interior.
We saw lots of bats when we lived in Juneau. They often hunted insects that gathered around the street light in our suburban front yard. My sister-in-law, Anke, is incredibly adept at spotting bats, which, being small, nocturnal, and moving with a distinctive fast flicker, are hard to see. Most of the bats I’ve seen have been ones she’s pointed out.
We assume that we have bats here on the homestead, but we’ve never seen them. There are no street lights here, so we lack the focal points that make them easier to spot. As eager as we might be to see bats, we’re not about to add outside lights anytime soon.
We talk now and then about building another bat house like the one we had in Juneau, but it’s a low priority—we had the one up in Juneau for years in a good location, with bats all around, but none ever roosted there. So little is known about bats, the experts say there’s no telling why bats might choose to roost in a bat house, or ignore it.