I sing the praises of brown bats and doily spiders
Bats and spiders are not the most beloved animals, but you have to hand it to them - they are, each in their own way, elegant and efficient at what they do. As a result, there are far fewer noisome bugs to deal with in this world.
At twilight during this time of year, little brown bats emerge from their lairs in our sinkhole-ridden farm and stitch the darkening sky with heady feats of zigzagging aerodynamics. It is exhausting just to watch from the porch of our cabin on the back pasture.
It hardly seems possible that the bats catch enough insects to fuel such a hunt, much less to produce enough milk for their young. But they do - and with enough energy to spare that they can twitch and twitter awhile.
I have read that bats echolocate with sounds well beyond the pitch the human ear can capture. Whether what I do hear are competitive warnings, shouts of joy that mealtime has rolled around again, or the low end of their sonar range is beside the point. It's an impressive visual and vocal performance, and admission is free, night after night.
In the mornings, the bats are nowhere to be seen, and it is somehow reassuring to know that these extraordinarily vigorous new parents have down times.
Now the spiders, silently and with minimal movement, come into their own. The landscape is not as richly cobwebbed as it will be by midsummer, but each fine spring morning, the pasture hill awakens to a resplendent, if fragile, display.
As the sun crests, dozens of delicate webs woven into the grasses and the stalks of last year's ironweed catch the light.
In the basement of each glowing domicile, a "bowl and doily" spider sits waiting for a hapless aphid to entangle itself in the network of threads arched like an inverted cup over the sticky, horizontal sheetweb of its floor.
Walking to check on the cows, I gingerly weave my way through the city on the hill, leaving the ephemeral civilization intact.
It is a rare day in spring that does not dawn with bowl and doily spiders and darken with small brown bats. When a storm interrupts their work, I realize how accustomed to their presence I have become.
If not as beloved to me as other creatures, they belong here - and they are as welcome in their way as the rain.