NOTE: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz first appeared in print on 17 May, 1900; the film premiered on 12 August, 1939. Here is one of my very first posts, about author L. Frank Baum, bats, and monkeys…. — Jadi
Both sides of my family hail from the Northeast. We lived for a while in Cazenovia, one of the most beautiful small towns in upstate NY. Caz is just a few miles from Chittenango Falls, and that town was the birthplace of L. Frank Baum, author of The Wizard of Oz.
My sisters and I first saw The Wizard of Oz film on an old black and white television set we called Lucille. Lucille was temperamental (“Dad! Lucille’s on the fritz again!”), but her screen was big.
It was years before I finally saw The Wizard of Oz on a color television. How I gasped when Dorothy opened that door and stepped out into Munchkin Land! But in color or black and white, to this day I don’t much like monkeys.
Some years ago my husband and I traveled to Bali. The Balinese fill their temples with statues of the strange half-bird, half-god creature known as Garuda, a lion-like Barong, lots of sinuous snakes, and Hanuman the monkey god. The cultural heart of Bali is Ubud, home to the Monkey Forest which contains the Monkey Temple. I wrapped a sarong around my waist before we entered to show respect, and I know I was curious as to what we’d find.
The temple grounds were filled – no, overrun – with crab-eating macaque (Macaca fascicularis) monkeys. Dozens of them rested on the platforms to the Pura Dalem Agung Padangtegal temple. Many more watched us from up in the canopy of thick jungle trees and vines. But worst of all, a horde of monkeys scampered our way as we drew near. They were used to people and accustomed to visitors who bring them food. We walked slowly, not making any sudden movements, keeping our arms stretched out with our hands opened. I hoped my empty palms signaled: no food here!
I breathed a huge sigh of relief when we left the grounds. But I wonder about the sanity (to say nothing of the later health) of tourists who bring bananas and fruit to hand to the macaques. Those critters are feral!
Bali has another disturbing indigenous species: bats.
A huge colony of the largest fruit eating bats I have ever seen, all with wingspans of an easy three feet, hung upside down in a very tall tree. I was horrified by their size.
Then they began flying. In the middle of the day. Bright tropical sun highlighted the reddish membranes of their webbed skins. They flew in loops, more and more gigantic bats, circling lower. I began to feel dizzy as a scratchy voice in my head murmured, “I’ll get you, my little pretty …”
Macaques and bats had morphed together into L. Frank Baum’s flying monkeys. Never underestimate the power of imagination in children…or adults. That movie scene still haunts me. Like I said, to this day I don’t much like monkeys.
PS: But, do go to Bali!
NOTES: © Jadi Campbell. All photos © Uwe Hartmann. Uwe’s photos of our trips and his photography may be viewed at viewpics.de.
Click here for my author page to learn more about my books and me.
15 thoughts on “Baum, Bats, and Monkeys”
Oh my goodness. Don’t know which is worse, the monkeys or the bats!
If I saw those bats I would book it outta there so fast I’d leave vapour trails. Yikes!
The sunlight shining through the webbing on their wings was amazing though….
No contest on this one: The monkeys. Bats stay in the air. The monkeys raced in our direction as soon as they spotted us.
Lions and tigers and monkeys and bats–oh my!
I can’t decide if seeing the bats flying about in daylight would be creepy or cool. But I don’t think I’d like to walk around amidst feral monkeys.
On the one hand the bats were really far away. On the other hand they were so huge that you could see them clearly even though they were so far away. As for the monkeys, when I turned around in the temple and watched one of them drop from a long hanging branch onto my husband’s shoulder I just about passed out.
It was the way they were flying around in the daylight. It was the assertive monkeys we’d just visited. And it was Baum’s skills as a writer. Otherwise, I completely agree with you about what wonderful creatures bats are. Usually I like seeing them – at dusk! (Go to my post http://jadicampbell.wordpress.com/2013/01/22/2000000-wrinkle-lipped-bats/)
Oh, by the way. Why are bats “disturbing” and why were you “horrified by their size”? Is it all because of Mr. Baum? I hope not. Tropical bats are so necessary to the survival of plants, which provide oxygen for us to breathe. About 70% of bat species are insectivores. Without bats, you’d be full of mosquito bites or have stock in an insecticide company!
I just savored your post about Baum. I had no idea he lived and wrote in San Diego! You have great information and photos. Thanks so much for bringing my attention to it –
You would enjoy a trip to San Diego and Coronado, where L. Frank Baum spent many a day writing, including writing “The Wizard of Oz.” See my post at http://russelrayphotos2.com/2012/08/09/ive-got-a-feeling-were-not-in-kansas-anymore/