Part 1 – Setting the Stage
Welcome to Germany, and to North Rhine Westphalia. In German, it’s spelled Noordrhien-Westfalen. It’s one of their 16 states.
Look at the map again, and find the red dot above the ‘e’ in Westfalen. That’s Münster. Now take your finger northeast to Osnabrück.
Lengerich is in the middle, and that’s where the real bat story took place, where I was pushed into writing – by a flying mammal!
Here are two postcards from Lengerich. Take a look around. I love the old buildings, the architecture. The first one reads ‘Beautiful Lengerich.’ The second is easier – Lengerich in Tecklenburger Land. That’s the beautiful northeastern section of Westphalia known for its hills, forests, and 100 castles.
I met Uschi, my host, when I finally arrived in Lengerich. I was a little anxious about staying a month with a stranger. Sending a few letters back and forth helped!
I wish I had a picture of her house, but I never took any. We spent all our time in her favorite place. In the US we call it the backyard. In Germany it’s the garden. Uschi did all the work herself. She’s one of the most incredible people I’ve ever met!
Uschi had six small gardens within her back yard. Each one unique and gorgeous! I’m not an outside girl, but I learned to be. I enjoyed every moment in Uschi’s garden!
Come inside Uschi’s house. It’s gorgeous, like her garden. This is her living room, where I met the bat. Sorry, I never got its picture!
But I made some other friends. The cat is Baghira, and the dog is Odin. They belonged to Uschi’s daughter Nina. I felt like I’d been given a new family, for a month, and I adored them!
Part 2 – In Flew a Bat
Look at the living room above, again. Imagine it’s the witching hour – midnight! It was my second night in Lengerich, and I was sitting in the chair behind Nina, reading. Uschi was watching the news from across the room.
From the corner of my eye, I saw something flying back and forth across her house. I’m a city girl. I thought it was a bird. Whatever it was, I wanted it to fly out the door. German doors and windows don’t have screens. All of them were open that night, and that’s how it made it into the house.
I called, “Uschi, bird!” When you’re in a foreign country, the fewer words the better. Uschi didn’t answer – she was sleeping. I walked over, quietly . . . I didn’t want to upset the bird . . . I nudged Uschi, and said ‘bird.’ She woke up, and then we started arguing/discussing what it was. I said bird. She said night bird, and whatever-it-was kept flying through the house, over and over again. Now I wonder, was it laughing at the two of us?
Then Uschi crossed the room. She picked up a thick book, 2 or 3 inches thick. Maybe not as big as this one, but big!
I looked at the book and wondered what she was going to do with it. The only thing I could think of – hit the bird with it.
She didn’t . . . she opened it up . . . turned to the page with the word Fledermaus. I didn’t have time to look –
Because the bird was hanging upside down, not from a branch, but from the curtain rod. I didn’t need to look in the book, which happened to be a German/English dictionary to know that it was a bat, a Fledermaus. BTW- German nouns are always capitalized.
Uschi and I argued about what to do (the bat’s still flying through the house). She was worried it could hurt us, or worse, fly into our hair.
I said, “It won’t. My 2nd graders read two stories about bats. They both said bats are interested in bugs, not people. Bats have echolocation so they know where they’re flying.”
I tried talking to the bat. I asked it to fly outside and catch some bugs, but it just stared at us. Either it didn’t speak Amerikanisch (American English), or it wanted to watch humans panic.
Then Uschi abandoned me – yes, my 2nd night in Germany, she left me alone with the bat, but she went searching for something, anything to help. Meanwhile I was stuck inside with the bat, still talking, still being ignored.
Then – I saw something – a mop at the back of the room. And – I had an idea – get the mop, hold it up to the bat, and the bat would start flying again. It didn’t!
It climbed down onto the mop with three limbs. The fourth clung to the curtain rod, just in case.
We stared at each other, like forever. Then I heard Uschi come in the door. I yelled, “Uschi, door!”
It was my short way of saying – leave the door open. The bat might fly outside.
My words broke the spell. The bat swept away from the mop and started flying again.
Eventually its echolocation found the door, and it flew out into the German night.
The End – For Now –
I didn’t think I was enough, or this story either. Another post is coming.
It will introduce you to two more characters, and where I found them.
Link for that post:
When I write, I can only have one voice in my head, mine. A little noise is fine. But too much, or worse yet, WORDS, and I must change rooms or pull out headphones. Then I can write on!