Yes it did, it really did happen just this way....On Thursday evening at The Eckert James River Bat Cave Preserve, my faithful, camera toting volunteer, Jana, and I waited patiently at the seating area for the 3.2 million bats to make their nightly emergence. It was getting dark earlier than last week, and the bats did not compensate by showing up earlier. They stuck to their seven thirtyish time frame. Despite the night slowly creeping up on us, we were stunned at the tremendous emergence. Bats blew out of the cave as though being shot from a cannon. Was it because they had not recognized the sun setting so much earlier, or were they just excited about another meal out on the countryside? It didn’t matter, the show was dynamic!
After getting quite dark, we accepted the fact that we were going to have to start back to the parking area. It was so still and quiet that you could hear your own heartbeat. Even the crickets had quieted their normal sing along. The crunch of the small rocks reverberated into loud, drum-like noises as we stepped on them while walking the trail.
All of a sudden Jana quickly threw her arm back to let me know to stop and stop quickly. Was it one of our resident reptilians? No, she quickly pointed out that two, young, frisky skunks were wrestling not more than ten feet from us. They rolled and tumbled and then one would get up as if to leave and the other would ambush it. Yelps and screams and growls brought warm smiles that spread across our faces. These two little munchkins were having the time of their life and were totally oblivious to our treading across their path. Even though the wind was not in our favor, the two black and white combatants continued on without the slightest indication that we had been observed.
Suddenly I heard a snort... then another. I glanced away from our tumbling twosome and half-way expected to see a momma skunk coming to her young ones’ rescue. The light was surreal and the image was in perfect silhouette under a young oak tree. The snorting image stood perfectly still when I turned to see what it could possibly be. He had caught our scent and was trying to recognize what the source was. It was a massive white-tail buck. On the ridge with the faintest light capturing his image and the rowdy young ones playing just a few feet from us, it struck up the illusion of Bambi’s father and the antics of Flower the Skunk. Was this real? I didn’t dare doubt its realism because I didn’t want it to end.
Light faded into almost complete darkness. The buck was no longer visible to the eye and neither were the skunks, but their occasional "YEEEEP" kept us standing like we were statues in someone’s manicured yard. The night....Awesome!! The memories.....no words can describe in entirety. Will this scene ever appear again? I can’t say either way, but I can promise that you never walk away from this wonderland called The Eckert James River Bat Cave Preserve without making memories of your very own!!
A SPECIAL NOTE OF INTEREST: A young visitor, Kaysen Turk, and her family joined us at The Preserve on Saturday night. After she heard the tale of the two young, nameless skunks, she decided to help us out by naming them "Jerry Lee Lewis and Lisa Marie". She was especially excited that her name would appear in The Mason County News!!
Join us...call 325-347-5970 for more information. Don’t forget that this Saturday is Early Morning Return. In fact, it will be the last chance for this season to view the demonstration of agility and accuracy of these small mammals as they zoom into the cave at speeds up to 80 mph..... from heights upward to 10,000 feet! We will also do some cleanup at the preserve for a few hours this Saturday if you’d like to help out.
One of our very special volunteers, James Nixon, comes regularly to help out at the cave. A couple of weeks ago he visited again with a close friend, Sandra Walters. The picture depicts the two of them ready to enjoy one of the greatest marvels known to man, the emergence of The Eckert James River Bat Cave bats! Thanks to you again, James, for all of your help and support throughout the years!!