On a persimmon-dotted hillside close to a slowly flowing river is a cave. In that cave at this moment are millions of Mexican free-tail bats. There is a small seating area that is situated just feet from the opening of this cave. The seating area consists of a small cleared area and nine wooden benches. Many a person has sat on these benches. Very, very young, very, very old, and every age in between. Possibly every station of life has been represented on these benches. Many sizes, shapes and colors of people have used these benches. There is one particular three year old girl that may always remember these benches in a different light than most people who visit The Eckert James River Bat Cave Preserve. She came here with her family over ten years ago. She was one of the thousand or so visitors that year that made the bat cave a vacation destination with the purpose of viewing the emerging bats. This little girl got to view the bats and learned a life lesson in the process.
This little girl’s grandmother came to visit The Eckert James River Bat Cave Preserve a few weeks ago and told me a cute story. It was a story that was soon followed by the emailed picture to me of this little girl. It told of the family choosing this eight acre Preserve as the spot of choice to visit on their vacation. The family arrived, parked, and hiked up to the seating area. They seated themselves on the benches and prepared themselves for the time of their lives. This was the point where it happened. This small person decided it was time to misbehave. What was done was not the point. The point is that the parents deemed it necessary to place this girl in “time-out” so that she would no longer upset the other people sitting in the area or disturb the bats. She was placed in “time-out” on one of the back benches.
This ”punishment” was to inculcate in her the appreciation of what was happening around her. It would give her a small window of time to find that being unruly was not part of the current package of behavior. As she sat on this bench she did contemplate things. She did not understand for a little while that this was truly punishment. She did not understand this because every bench in this seating area was placed with a view. This view became the focus of the moment. She was entertained by the marvel that unfolded in front of her. She was captivated by the orchestrated performance that the bats put on. For the brief time alone on that bench, away from her family by three or four feet she was not in fear. She was at peace learning her life-lesson. She learned it very fast. Never had “time- out” been so peaceful.
Now, at thirteen, her grandmother wants to bring her out to visit again. I don’t know how she behaves everywhere else as a thirteen year old, but I can almost promise you that when she comes to visit The Eckert James River Bat Cave Preserve, she will be a perfect little lady as she sits with her family on these old wooden benches. I can’t wait to meet you, Emily!
Come on out! Bring your children....use our benches. You can even use them for “time-out” if it becomes necessary. We are getting ever closer to the end of the season so do not delay in coming out. We also have the Early Morning Return of the bats this Saturday morning, August 17th. Meet at the Preserve between 6:30 and 6:45 A.M. for this event.
Current emergence times in the evening for the bats is 7:15 P.M. Please be at the Preserve no later than 7:00 P.M. to keep from disturbing the bats. Remember please: No alcohol, smoking, or pets are allowed ANYWHERE on the Preserve. See ya at the cave.....