Wild onions are appearing in force, one of the first harbingers of spring.
Years ago my in-laws were on the porch with Mother and Daddy discussing various gardening topics when the conversation settled on the stinky little things. The in-laws had lived on a dairy farm at one point early in their marriage, and never forgot how the Holsteins got into a patch of the stuff, which rendered their milk soured and undrinkable for days.
It’s a shame people can’t eat them, because they sure are prolific.
Actually, I have eaten them, or more accurately inhaled them, by accident whilst mowing or weeding. I spent most of my formative years on my bicycle or friends’ motorcycles, so I’ve inadvertently swallowed about everything that can become airborne. Stinkbugs are the worst.
Perhaps the one airborne critter I thankfully never inhaled were bats. This brings to mind a couple of stories.
When I was 6 or so, one of my brothers and I were walking down East Fork after dark when a one-in-a-million event occurred.
A bat, chasing a bug I had neglected to swallow, dove at my feet as I walked, and I found myself standing, one foot on each wing, with the little fellow pinned. So naturally I reached down and picked him up, one hand per wing.
I couldn’t wait to get home, as I was sure Mother would be delighted with my catch.
Now, I’ve been wrong about things in my life. Thought Carter would beat Reagan. Thought we would’ve had flying cars by the time I was 30. But I’m not sure I’ve ever been more wrong in anticipating the delight in Mother’s eyes when I brought home a cute little bat.
I got to the front door, kicked on it and held the little feller up. The door opened.
There was a silence as a palpable lack of delight settled over the scene.
Mother never cursed, but in that moment it appeared she might be reconsidering that stand.
She looked at me, looked at the bat, and a torrent of panicked verse began to issue forth. She was going so fast I couldn’t catch much of it, but I could tell about every third word was “rabies.”
I was clearly faced with a conundrum.
Should I turn the wing held by my right hand loose, I would be bitten on the left and get rabies. And vice-versa.
Shooed away from the porch, I moved out into the yard and threw the bat up two-handed, much in the form of a bride tossing the bouquet.
To this day I think of bats at weddings. Beats thinking of divorce, I suppose.
Speaking of weddings, my wife had a bat entangle itself in her hair back in high school, and has a tendency to head for the hills every time she spots one. It has made fireworks viewing, drive-in theaters, etc. something of a challenge.
My fascination with bats continued long after I bagged one. On early spring evenings a favorite activity was heading to the cemetery at East Fork, picking up some pea gravel and lobbing them toward the twirling bug-eaters. They’d usually catch a few of them. After a bit they’d catch on to the game and start dive-bombing us with our own rocks.
One time, out of curiosity, I spent a few minutes tossing up green onions. No bat ever grabbed a one.
I reckon that makes them smarter than dairy cows.
Buchanan is editor of the Sylva Herald.