The month of June in the Central Interior of British Columbia is always a beautiful month. It comes on, tender green and warm, after a period of many months of snow and a month or so of muddy snow-melt. The wild-flowers – Indian paintbrush, orange hawk-weed, wild columbine, blue lupin and daisy – bloom in profusion in the woods and fields. In the lambent light of summery dusk, the bats flit about gorging themselves on the burgeoning flying insect populations.
June was also a month when young Renaissance Man, teenaged, back 20 or so years ago, pestered me daily to take him and his friends on tennis-playing excursions in the late afternoons and early evenings. These young bush-apes didn’t have proper tennis vocabulary nor comportment. They called tennis racquets ‘tennis bats’ and hit the courts in a weird assortment of ragged cut-off jeans and hideous patterned tee-shirts. They loped and goofed about while rallying. They also spent considerable time outside the tennis court fencing, beating about the bushes for balls they carelssly lofted over the fence in their enthusiastic abandon. They were exuberant, loud and completely entertaining to spend teaching the finer points of the game.
One lovely summer evening, we returned to the homestead after an energetic couple of hours on the courts. Mike, Renaissance Man’s buddy and sidekick came with us for after game snacks and juice. They hauled the tennis equipment from the Landcruiser into the house while I made for the kitchen to prepare their victuals. They slumped down on the living room couches, exhausted, waiting for their treats to be delivered to them. The French doors to the back of the property were wide open. We could hear Rumpole making yard-work noises outside. The dogs were nowhere to be seen, obviously keeping a watch on Rumpole’s doings out in the yard.
I delivered drinks and snacks to the boys in the living room. While I was bending over, depositing the tray on the coffee table, something flew by the region of my head. Turning to take a look, I noted a flappping black thing, mid-air, heading from the living room into the kitchen. Started making incoherent shrieks, much to the boys’ amusement.
“Look, a bat,” commented a laconic Mike.
Renaissance Man ran out to the front entry, brought back two tennis racquets, one of which he tossed to Mike and chortled, “Tennis bat. lets play.”
The boys ran around the main floor swinging with the racquets at the poor bat. It managed to not get hit in mid-air, but was labouring with panicked flits to avoid getting pasted. Finally, the poor beastie landed on the mullion of one of the French doors and clung on there, hyperventilating and trembling.
“Don’t you guys dare to hit it! Don’t touch it! Leave it alone!” I screamed while trying to wrap my long hair in a kitchen towel. The idea of a bat flying into my flying long hair was frightening. Eeeeek!
The commotion caused Rumpole to come into the house. “What are you guys all so exercised about? Calm down, everyone.” We were milling around the living room, boys brandishing tennis racquets, all excited, me moaning and wringing my hands.
“A bat flew into the house,” announced RM. “Mike and I were using our “tennis bats” to get it to leave.”
“Yeah! That’s a good one – get it? Tennis bat?” chortled goofy Mike.
“Poor bat,” commented Rumpole as he inspected the terrified bat on the door. ” All this screaming and mad flailing with the racquets has him completely panicked.” He went off to the bathroom, came back with a large bath towel, wrapped the bat inside and took the bundle out to the back deck. There he loosely arranged the towel to allow the bat ease of escape. I slammed shut the French doors. Through the glass we watched as the bat made his awkward climb from inside the towel, righted itself and flew off toward the sfety of the big pine behind the house. Rumpole came back inside and chided us for giving the bat a scare.
Ever since then, whenever Renaissance Man and I play tennis together, all I have to do is waggle my eyebrows meaningfully, and say “tennis bat”. We both break down in instant and helpless laughter. Somehow, Rumpole finds it difficult to share in this form of humour. He loves bats; hates tennis.