I am obsessed with caves. Blame it on my Pacific Northwest upbringing. We don’t got none out there. Except for sea caves, which are lame, and the caves that form from dead volcano veins, but when you grow up with them they seem too ordinary.
Missouri is the “Cave State” as well as the “Show Me State.” They’re everywhere here. We walk on hollow ground. It’s wonderful. But because there’s so little public land, you only get to explore the caves that have been turned into show caves, which are lovely in their own right. There are caves you can drive into in Springfield, or something, according to the highway billboards. We don’t get up that way much.
There’s a cave nearby called Bluff Dwellers. It was the first limestone cave I ever visited. My Dad took me there over Thanksgiving weekend during my first year of grad school. Whenever we have company now, I try to take them there. It’s always a little disappointing. Nobody ever seems as enthralled by them as me.
Except… maybe Jon. Among the many things that I love about him, I love that he loves nature as much as I do–not too much, and not too little. He appreciates and notices the same things I appreciate and notice. When he was a kid, he spent hours and hours and hours spelunking. He says his mother used to holler down into those shadowy entrances and say, “Jon! It’s getting dark out! Come home!” and let it echo down to him, and then he’d holler back, “What do you think it is in here?”
When Jon first bought the farm, the previous owners told him there was a cave or two on the property. One was supposedly near the house. There’s supposed to be an enormous one far deeper in the farm. Last winter, once everything had died back, we spent hours poking around near rocky outcroppings trying to find an entrance. Never found one.
But then yesterday, I was walking and… I just got this funny feeling. I looked up a dry creek bed that tumbled steeply off one of the hillsides. The limestone had fractured so neatly that they looked like steps. I walked up, and up, and up… and then…
I walked under the overhang and laughed and laughed and laughed. Sat on the dry ground and laughed more. All this time. Right by the house. And we never once spotted it.
I didn’t go all the way in–yet. I’m waiting until Jon gets back. I want to do it. Together.