“Well I am pretty, replied Charlotte. “There’s no denying that. Almost all spiders are rather nice-looking. I’m not as flashy as some, but I’ll do.” – E.B. White, Charlotte’s Web
In my previous apartment, which had no balcony, I started pot gardening with two pots of herbs. One, a mint, and the other a lemon basil. In less than a month, creepy crawlies found their way into the pots. How they found their way up 10 storeys, beats me. Could they have used the lift? Maybe they came with the soil. Whatever. They were good for the soil. Soil needs aeration for the roots to breathe. In my current apartment with 3 balconies, my range of guests have expanded. Spiders, ants, caterpillars. Butterflies. Beetles.
My favourite guests are of course the sunbirds. Since the last torrential downpour, wrecked the birds’ nest, they rarely visit. Yesterday, I played some music in the living room, and one male sunbird flew in to meet the song challenge.
We also have our resident mynahs, who once flew into the TV room and promptly down the stairs to the living room, exploring the place. Outside the balcony on the tree tops, there are other birds who sit there in the mornings. Friends who stay near the Botanic Gardens have spotted more exotic migratory species.
And of course the bats. Yes, hopefully not the dracula blood-sucking type. When you buy bananas from market or supermarket, they come with strings attached. I hang them by the oven, in the kitchen. Instead of covering them with a net. Out of sight, out of mind. This way its easier to see, and get my daily dosage of fibre and potassium.
One day I spotted the bananas badly bruised. L, must have dropped them, I thought. Then I saw the chew marks. Strange. That same night, or rather wee hours of the morning at 3am, I woke up, early to work on my presentation slides, instead of tossing in bed. From the balcony to where I was sitting, a flying object (is it a bird?) dashed in and then dashed out. Flapping its wings furiously. I shrieked. But it was too fast for me to spot it. L didnt believe my story.
Two nights later, at 10pm, he was upstairs, and I was in the living room, two bats flew in. One flew in upstairs and down the stairs, the second one flew into the living room. I was vindicated. They’ve since not flown in at 10pm. But occasionally, when I forget to hide the bananas, and hang them by the oven, the bats have come to visit. Here’s a picture of one such incident recently, and the chew marks are quite deep. The bats are too fast for me to take a photo. Only evidence from the crime scene. L was so excited by these new guests, he wanted to hang bananas by the balcony, to keep the bats as pets. Sigh… He has also scared me by suggesting that they may have built a nest in the store-room.
Apparently bats eat fleshy fruits and spit them out. I’m pleased that they’ve not spit out the fleshy pulp, as I dont want to start cleaning them up. What I can’t fathom is that they have not been attracted to my jambu air, custard apple or chiku fruit. Even though these naturally fit their diet of fleshy fruits. I would know, since I dont find chew marks on the fruits.
Thankfully I dont have monkeys in our balcony. Our neighbours Deepak and Trupti recounted that a monkey troop once visited their balcony in their previous home in Faber Lodge. Not a friendly sight, when they started baring their teeth. Possibly a baby monkey was in their midst, L said. To protect the baby. None have visited me. Thankfully. Mainly also, because our balcony faces the pool and the Singapore skyline and not Mt Faber. I’ve heard stories of monkeys rattling window railings like mad men.
Otherwise, I’ve had close encounters twice with the monkeys on the Forest Walk, the Elevated Walkway connecting Telok Blangah Hill and Alexandra Arch. They’ve left me alone. And I them. Adventures of staying on the fringe of our forest friends.