Wednesday, November 18, 2015

what the sign says

NOW THAT WE LIVE in a different neighborhood, I have a new commute into the city. It’s a cool ride. I bike from our apartment near Memorial Park, all along Buffalo Bayou, into downtown Houston — and I never have to stop at a stop sign or a traffic light. The bike trails go over and under the surface streets.
     When I start my morning commute, just before sunrise, the downtown skyline glittering in the distance is not unlike The Emerald City, and the bike trail I’m easing on down is not unlike The Yellow Brick Road.
     My favorite part is the bat colony. Where the trail passes under Waugh Street, famously, a bat colony has long resided. I always enjoy passing under the sign that says NEVER HANDLE GROUNDED BATS. Seems like a sign you might come across making your way through Oz.
     I don’t usually see any bats, grounded or otherwise, when I’m biking through. It’s only two or three seconds of bat colony exposure traveling at that velocity, and it’s still dark out, but I can hear them — eep eep eep eep — and I can definitely smell them. 
     To say it’s not the most pleasant smell in the world would be putting it politely. It’s a thick roux of musty poo air. But I don’t mind it. I just breathe it all in. The way I see it, you can’t have your cake and eat it too. You can’t have the cool experience of bicycling through a bat colony without also having the smell of that experience. Asking Mother Nature for odorless bats is an unreasonable demand on reality. So I smell it like it is. I stay open to it. It’s not like it’s going to kill me.
     It’s like in my tea group when someone takes a sip of tea they don’t like, and they make a face like they’re going to choke and die. It’s possible to notice a taste, or a smell, I always tell them, even an unpleasant one — especially an unpleasant one — without totally closing yourself off to it like you’re on some kind of emergency lockdown. Relax, I always tell them. It won’t kill you.