Once, while fly fishing in the middle of the day a bat kept swooping me. It took a few minutes to figure out why the bat, who was roosting under a nearby train trestle, was out in the middle of the day and swooping after a human head. When I realized it stopped coming after me whenever I stopped casting my line, I figured out its sonar was picking up on the wooly bugger on the end of my back cast and my head was just in the way. News flash: Bats can and do come out during the day if a feeding opportunity presents itself. Roll cast, I reminded myself, and proceeded to try to cast in tight quarters with no back cast, except that the fly had already been marked and with a roll cast trailed closer to my head than normal. The bat made my hair puff up. I imagined him thinking in his own bat way what in the hell is this guy doing to me doesn’t he know I have no control over my swooping impulse? The bat probably just wanted to sleep, but like me whenever a motorcycle drives by the apartment during a mid-day nap, and I catch myself flying up out of bed looking for blood only to remind myself it’s just a motorcycle, he probably just reacted. The fisherman 300 feet or so away from me was getting a kick out of my realizing all this, when he looked in my direction holding his stomach and laughing. I put my arms up like what are you gonna do? Well, I couldn’t fish on this part of the river anymore, as the fisherman upriver from me had already experienced, because that bat was not going to let me off the hook that easily, and I wasn’t here to catch rabies, but trout, so I ended up looking for another place downriver I knew I probably wouldn’t catch anything at. I walked home early, kicked out of my favorite trout hole by a light-sleeping bat.
My father had a similar experience with a bull moose in rut. He’d gone deer hunting with some bow-wielding friends out in Canterbury somewhere, and had decided to stay in the car and wait for them to finish, since he didn’t really like to hunt himself and preferred to just be around it while it happened. The way he told it the moose came up to the car snorting and making coughing like noises, while it circled him for hours and pressed its nostrils against the passenger side window. He had his 357 maximum revolver he liked to carry with him on hunts such as these, and had decided that if he had to, he would use it. A few hours of snorting like a bull in a Spanish bullfight the big boy trotted off like he was on ice skates into the woods, crisis averted, the full moon influence worn off. Pretty crazy.
Speaking of which, I think if my father were alive today, I would have told him about another pretty crazy time a baby moose who probably just wanted to say hi, but would have trampled us in the process of being hospitable, cleared a fence beside the school I work at and began to run directly at myself and the student with a disability I was working with, before it suddenly veered and made for the parking lot beside which some teachers from the art and technology departments were looking into the backs of their smartphones and capturing the near carnage. It probably kept running as if on a conveyor belt until it got to South Street, where it’s possible to hook into an image of it stopping for a second and crying for its mother and wondering what in the hell is so wrong with me, which, having been a motherless child myself and always trying to catch an original quality of mother-ness for more than half of my life, is something I unfortunately know a little bit about.
It seems that along my journey toward doing just enough to get by and be reasonably happy, my father’s obstacles have become my own obstacles, though mine may present a little differently, and have caught me off guard in a slightly different manner. Then again, maybe that’s just what I like to tell myself when I feel lonely about hanging in the dark of an everyday, boring life, and will hope after anything that moves, even go against my own nature, if that’s what it takes to feel full.