Artist’s Musings

a pair of geese flew by; outside my studio window; i’m glad elephants don’t fly

The Other Winged Residences Around Red Clay Creek

 The Decrepit Warehouse. Red Clay Creek, Kennett Square. Oil on cotton over panel, 6 by 8 inches. 

The Decrepit Warehouse. Red Clay Creek, Kennett Square. Oil on cotton over panel, 6 by 8 inches. 

Last February 1st, 2016 was our second year in Kennett Square. Every summer evening, I would see a bird flying around and around above Crossing Court. I thought it was a confused bird, had insomnia, or could not find a safe place to roost for the night. Although the latter seemed impossible, because there were thousands of trees in the area in which it could safely roost. I did not ponder much about this the first time.

Last summer, I saw the bird again. This time I stood outside to watch for a longer time. Its flight pattern appeared erratic, but it was not. It would make quick and sharp turns and dives, and when it seemed it would collide with an object, it always managed to avoid collision. Its flight was well controlled. After some time, I realised the bird was a bat! Then I wondered where it would roost during the day.

 Morning Haze. Red Clay Creek, Kennett Square. Oil on linen over panel, 8 by 12 inches. 

Morning Haze. Red Clay Creek, Kennett Square. Oil on linen over panel, 8 by 12 inches. 

There is an open, protected field between the soccer field and Red Clay Creek that I like to use as my go-to landscape subject. It is a few hundred feet from my studio. After two years of making paintings of this field, it finally dawned on me where the bat (or bats) could be roosting, and it has been in plain sight. There is a large decrepit building which looks like an airplane hangar hidden behind some trees. I do not know the history of this building and the land it idles on, but, for now, it is sanctuary for many wild animals in the area. I do not know if this field beyond the protected field is also protected. If not, I hope it soon will be.

 The Red House. Red Clay Creek, Kennett Square. Oil on linen over panel. Artist Collection.

The Red House. Red Clay Creek, Kennett Square. Oil on linen over panel. Artist Collection.

I am sure that a herd of deer use this field, because one afternoon while I was painting, I heard a distant thundering sound becoming louder and louder from behind me. Soon before I could think what was happening, I saw a herd of deer galloping at full speed on the trail along Red Clay Creek past the YMCA outdoor swimming pool, across Walnut Street, and into the field where I was painting! Fortunately, I was not in their way. This was a surprising sight for a city folk like myself.

Back to the bats. I have no doubt now that the bats are roosting in the decrepit building towards which the deer were galloping. Someday I will find out the history of this building and the land, but what I have found out about bats is great news. A bat can eat many thousands of mosquitos per night! This is way better than insecticides. Considering how close we live to Red Clay Creek, I have wondered why I have not been bitten by mosquitoes, and I have my nocturnal-flying fuzzy buddy to thank.

So, if you see a bat flying around your area, be kind to it because it is eating up thousands of mosquitoes per night. If you see an opossum, be kind to it too, because it literally hovers up around a thousand ticks per day! But that is a story for another time.