Austin for us is a round of domestic pursuits, birds, work that we can do remotely, and self-indulgent eating (like my favourite dish in the entire world, this foie gras nigiri from Uchi).
On our last day in Austin, despite Finch’s flu-ey cold (I had conked him out for half the day with non-non-drowsy cold meds), we went to our favourite Mexican resto, and then went to watch the bats under the Congress street bridge.
I ate an excellent fish a La Condesa. In Uganda, I’ve been told that you need to use your fingers to eat a fish, and it’s true, plucking the flesh off the tiny bones is easier without utensils. But in Texas, I did a thorough job of it despite my utensil-ed veneer of civility.
The bat bridge is a Thing in Austin, people gathering every night at dusk to watch thousands of fruit bats fly out to forage in the dark.
They even come in little boats.
They flash red lights under the bridge to reveal the bats, but the irony is, you can’t really see much, of course, because they fly out in the dark.
With a flash, I could occasionally catch blurry specks that hinted at the sheer numbers of creatures flowing out. But the experience is felt rather than visual, an embodiment of adaptation. The bats have found themselves a very functional habitat, and now they’re here, where they weren’t a few decades ago. They evoke the way that cliff and bank swallows have adapted to bridges as well, and the fact that barn swallows are dwindling because they haven’t found a replacement habitat yet with the disappearance of barns and other raftered, open buildings.
Leaving the bat bridge, Finch and I had one of our patented ridiculous arguments, about the route home. The only thing we argue about, really, our own adaptation in action, the tussles of two stubborn people accustomed to leading. It doesn’t get any stupider than arguing over where you’re going to cross the street, but that’s just the manifestation of the dynamic — two people learning each other’s languages, core identity, learning how to carve out shared habitat in new places.