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Bat Cave Report
2013 Texas Nature Conservancy Steward
Wednesday, July 24, 2013 • Posted July 26, 2013

CLUTTER: A word described by my handy thesaurus as “disorder”. Clutter in our lives crowd out the many little pockets of space that give us serenity. Clutter can cause disruption in the family unit. Clutter can mask pain and despair. Clutter is like paint that is put over black mold to hide what is really there. Soon, that paint becomes as toxic as the mold. There are hundreds of books written about how to undo the clutter in our lives. The books are normally not read by persons who do have clutter closing them in. Clutter to these people is a protection of sorts. Books also are written on how to detect clutter in our life. Some people start with a little clutter and it can over time control them and they become hoarders. They have television shows that depict hoarders. Watching these episodes make me feel very bad for the individuals involved. To what point did a few extra things become what you see on your TV screen?

I was at The Eckert James River Bat Cave Preserve a few weeks ago when the wind began to gust and caused dead limbs to fall from a tree on the trail. It also caused a huge sign in the parking area to fall forward. One of the four-by-four posts holding it up had rotted in the ground and the push of wind gave it the help it needed to break free. The next day I went out and unbolted the sign from the four-by-fours and attempted to get it down and in the back of the bat mobile. Attempted is a key word here because I did not know that the sign itself was also rotting . I removed the bolts and part of the sign fell to the ground. I took the other part and placed it in the back of the pickup and then just stood and looked at it. The sign let people know that this area was a “sensitive” area. It told a number of things that were not permitted on the Preserve. I looked over at the one standing four-by-four and wondered, “Is this sign just useless clutter?” My daughter, Jana , is a clutter-free advocate and reprimands me quite often. She has studied anti-cluttering techniques for quite a few years and is very willing to share with me. I thought of some of the ways that you can tell if something is clutter. One way and probably the most important is: is it being used or will it be used in the next year...if not, it is clutter. I got my answer this week about whether this sign was clutter. We headed back up to the parking area when I heard barking. The bats had a strange emergence that evening, but I thought that it could be attributed to the weather. Normally weather doesn’t affect them that much this time of the year, but we have had some weird July weather. No, it had not been the weather at all. There was a dog locked in a vehicle with the windows down a little bit. Most people would not need a sign to tell them that 90 + degree weather is not a good time to lock your dog in the vehicle where there is no shade. Even with the windows down a little, the heat can get deadly in a hurry. The person excitedly told me how the dog went everywhere with him and how much he cared for the dog. I couldn’t fuss at this point, the visitor obviously had overlooked the danger of a pet left in a car. The damage had already been done as far as the bats were concerned but then I thought about the sign. SENSITIVE AREA: FOLLOWING NOT ALLOWED: No Pets No Smoking No Alcohol....the list went on. Would someone get “the point” from the sign that harm could come to the bats if you brought your pet with you? The sign will be redone and reset. Some things are clutter, but this sign obviously has purpose. Please, all of you pet lovers out there....please do not bring your “baby” out with you on your visit to The Eckert James River Bat Cave Preserve! I have pets and would love them to be with me out there too, but sitting in a hot vehicle is NOT fun for them. It is not fair, considering you are down in the shade having the time of your life. Pets are not allowed ANYWHERE on the Preserve. Leave your dog home in the nice air conditioning with a big bowl of fresh, cool water. If you feel the need, turn on some Lassie reruns before you head out so that Fido can really enjoy your visit to The Eckert James River Bat Cave Preserve! See ya at the cave......

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