Splashes in the Dark

I arrived at the lake a few minutes after midnight after teaching the first class in Current Topics in Law and Ethics at the Chelmsford “campus,” a pleasant suite of classrooms and offices in a suburban office building.  I parked my car in the shade outside the first-floor classroom, windows and sunroof open, to keep an eye on the dogs.  The drive north was much longer than I expected.  I unpacked, opened windows to air out the stuffy interior, found a towel and flashlight, and went to the dock.  The moon had not risen.  Stars dotted the sky, the Milky Way a pale smudge.  Walking parallel to the lake I heard a distinct splash hear shore.  A fish?  I heard another splash, then another, and then more as I walked on the dock.  They didn’t sound like the splashes fish make when they jump, and there were too many. I listened mystified, playing the flashlight beam over the lake’s glassy surface.   There was a splash to my right.  I  turned and saw concentric ripples and, at the edge of my vision, a flitting shadow.  I heard another splash in front, then one to my left, and I understood.  Bats were darting about catching insects, swooping low, drinking from the lake, then resuming their hunt.  I raptly watched and listened for ten minutes. The lake and night were perfectly still, no sounds save the cries of loons and the splashes from the leathery flying acrobats.   I broke from my reverie and dove in.  Unfortunately my splash was louder than the bats’.  It alarmed the dogs back in the house, who starting barking.  They wouldn’t stop until I walked back and shushed them.

One Reply to “Splashes in the Dark”

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