Monday, February 06, 2012
The White Lady
By Leonard Dubkin
When Leonard Dubkin was driving home one evening, he passed a field that he recognized from his childhood. It was a small wilderness within the confines of the city of Chicago, a place with a low, rocky hill, some grass and weeds and a few trees. So he decided to stop and take a look around at his old stomping ground. As he wandered through the area, he came upon a tree which had growing around its trunk a large and dense collection of vines climbing up the tree to almost twenty feet high. Curious to look inside the thicket, he tried to push through the vines but failed. So he climbed up the outside of the vines and up on to the tree trunk. Once above the vines he could see an opening in the vines close to the trunk, big enough for him to stick his head in if he wanted to. But as he gazed at the hole, he became aware of some kind of movement inside the vines. He tried to see what it was but he lost his grip and tumbled into the midst of the vines, landing on a thick carpet of dead leaves at the base of the tree. Looking up toward the hole, Dubkin saw that the inside of the vine structure was full of little brown bats.
Dubkin was fascinated by the bats and that whole summer and into fall made repeated visits to observe and enjoy the bats. He came back the next summer also and that is when he discovered the little bat he called the White Lady. He was able the observe the little white bat as it was being born and, over the summer, he and the bat became friends of a sort with the little bat taking insects from his hand after it learned to fly.
This was a sweet story of a man getting to know bats in a way that most people would never wish to try. In fact, he was bitten several times but he never seemed worried about getting a disease. His mother, with whom he still lived at the time, strongly disapproved of all the time he spent with the white bat, at one time saying, "I was just coming to the conclusion that if you had to choose between us, the white bat would win." In fact, it was the time he spent with the bats that helped him to realize that he was too much under his mother's thumb and that he needed to break away and make a life for himself.
Dubkin's descriptions of the antics of the bats make them seem very appealing and endearing and even people who don't particularly care for bats might find this book interesting and informative. And maybe even improve their opinion of these mostly harmless and often very beneficial creatures.