23 September 2012

Tomatoes, and a bat scare

Yesterday I talked to our neighbor Daniel, who lives two houses down the road. We talked about what but the weather... how hot it was yesterday afternoon (about 26ºC, or 80ºF), and how dry it's been for two months. Everything is parched and dusty. The ground is cracking because it's so dry.

All these cherry tomatoes — well, not the green ones...

I told Daniel, who is a retired baker, that we'd brought in all our ripe and even nearly ripe tomatoes and red bell peppers on Friday. Are your tomatoes malades? he asked. No, I told him, we'd been lucky with this year's tomato crop. Mine have mildiou, Daniel said, meaning mildew, an affliction of tomato plants and grape vines brought on by warm damp weather. It makes the leaves and the tomatoes turn black. He must have been watering too much. We stopped watering the tomato plants more than a month ago. There are still a lot of green tomatoes on the vines.

...went into the sauce pot to make another gallon of sauce for the winter.

But here's the bad news. I think frost got my bell peppers. Last Wednesday and Thursday mornings, we had significant morning frost. I didn't think much about it. When I went to pick the bell peppers Friday morning, though, half of them were shriveled and mushy. I harvested them and after radical trimming, I made puree out of them instead of making roasted peppers. At least I didn't lose the whole crop. I made a good pint of puree that will make a delicious pasta sauce or soup.

So it was pretty hot yesterday afternoon for late September in Saint-Aignan. And then the storms blew in. Around 8 p.m., the wind started blowing hard and we saw lightning in the distance. The strong wind, by the way, blew clouds of yellow pollen — literally, like a dust storm — out of the two big evergreen trees on the northwest corner of our house. It was the first time we've had gusty winds in weeks, I think. Then the rain started.

We ran around the house closing windows and turning off computers. It rained a flood, but for only about 20 minutes. By 8:30, we were re-opening all the windows to let some fresh air move through the house again. An hour later, something flew into the house through an upstairs window. Callie went wild trying to catch it.

The vegetable garden a few days ago — not so pretty...

...but full of good produce ready to be harvested

At first, I thought it was a small bird, but birds seldom fly in at night. Then I thought it might be a very big moth. It was a strong flyer, and Callie was still barking and lunging wildly, trying to catch it as it bumped against the so-called cathedral ceiling in the loft. Every time it bumped the ceiling, it left a black mark on the white paint. Damn! I started thinking it might be a little bat like the one I found hiding behind a shutter on the garden shed one morning last week. That bat was no more than two inches long from head to tail.

I threw open one of the Velux roof windows, and suddenly the bird/moth/bat was gone. Callie stopped shreiking and lunging. Calm returned. Where did the UFA (A for animal) go? It must have flown out the window as soon as you opened it, Walt said. Or was it still in the house, hiding? Walt went downstairs but didn't see any sign of the flying creature flying around down there, or any black marks on the living room ceiling.

At eleven we turned off the TV and went to bed, still wondering whether the flying thing was still in the house. The wind came up again, with some lightning off to the north, and a few heavy rain showers. I lay awake for a while, but finally dozed off. At about one o'clock, I was awakened by a light coming on. It was Walt. He said the thought he heard the bird or bat or moth banging around inside a lamp shade, but he couldn't find it once the light was on. He turned it back off.

It's hard to believe these apple trees have no apples on them this year.
The neighbor Daniel said his apple trees are bare too.

Half an hour later, Walt was out of bed again. As he turned on the light, I told him what he was hearing was probably just big raindrops splatting against the roof tiles. No, he said, I'm sure I can hear the flying thing banging against the metal shade on the light fixture over the stairs. And then we both saw it again, flying around wildly and bumping into things. It still wasn't clear whether it was a tiny bat or a huge moth, but we didn't like the idea of it flying around in the room while we tried to sleep.

Walt grabbed the only thing he could find to swing at the flying creature, a tee-shirt. (We need a butterfly net, I guess, since we don't have window screens.) He swung the shirt and hit the flying thing, knocking it to the floor. It's a gigantic moth, he said. He caught it and managed to carry it over to the only open window, throwing it out and hoping it didn't just fly back in.

Since it was a moth and not a bat, we were finally able to get some peaceful sleep, even though the window by the bed stayed open. The wind blew some more — it's still gusty out there — and it rained, but I slept for at least four hours pretty soundly.


  1. I didn’t think it was a bat, unless its radar, sonar or whatever they call it was out of commission. Bats don’t usually bump into things, I think.

  2. No, CHM (bonjour), it was a big moth. But that tiny bat behind the shutter was about the same size. I thought it might be that one, not doing well. I have to go look to see if it is still behind the shutter.

  3. See, you guys are GUYS. I, not being a guy, can't stand when something is flitting or flying or running around inside my house. It may sound silly, but I am just always sure it is going to fly into my face, or run up my leg, and it makes me run and hide... and let El take care of it. Thank heavens. (Of course, I'm sure this isn't really a guy/chick thing, but that's how it works out in my maison) :))


  4. I would definitely get someone to make screens for the windows!

  5. Oh, a moth big enough to be mistaken for a bat. I think I probably would have left home over that one!

  6. Mitch, Wiki says that moth can have a wingpan of 8 inches! This one was wasn't more than a 4-inch specimen.

  7. A bat makes a high pitched sound that will get your attention. Dollar Tree sells butterfly nets that are well worth a buck. We have several since the cat brings in critters through the pet door- have had a couple of bats which are the worse possible things imo- they might have rabies...flying squirrels are next at being hard to catch.

  8. So you did have a bat in your belfry (well, if you had a bell).

  9. Dearest Ken, I laughed too hard about your "bat" problem. I'm glad it all worked out. hee hee hee hee
    ps please tell me at some point that Walt ran around screaming "its in my hair! its in my hair" because that would have been perfect.


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